In the past few years, New Jerseyans have had to deal with ticks, mosquitoes, spotted lanternflies and cicadas. What’s next? Possibly Asian lady beetles.
Asian lady beetles are cousins to the ladybug and part of the ladybird beetle family. Ladybugs are a friend to New Jersey gardeners. They eat aphids and help us defend our gardens from many insects - without insecticides. When you see ladybugs on a plant, fear not as they are only eating the insects.
Ladybugs - The Good Guys
There are many types of ladybird beetles, better known as ladybugs and lady beetles. Lady bugs are the good guys whereas lady beetles are the not-so-good guys. Lady bugs come in a variety of colors: orange, red, yellow, shiny black or brown. They have little black spots on their shell and wing covers. Most ladybugs do not any harm to humans (unless you are sensitive to their “dust”) .
Lady Beetles - The Not-So-Good Guys
The Asian lady beetle is a not-so-good type of ladybird beetle. Although this lady also eats aphids, she is now considered a pest. Years ago Asian lady beetles were intentionally introduced in the US to control crop pests. Like many of the efforts that introduced non-native species to fix a problem, the fix became a new problem.
Asian lady beetles are thought to be partly responsible for the decline in ladybug populations across the United States. They not only outcompete their cousins for food, but they actually can eat native lady bugs. Asian lady beetles are also more likely to bite people than their friendly cousins.
How to Identify Asian Lady Beetles
To date, most reports of sighting and swarms have been from South Jersey. As we do not know what is in store for us this summer, it is important to be able to tell the difference between the ladybug and the Asian lady beetle. Here is how to identify Asian lady beetles:
Are a little bigger than native ladybugs
Have a "M" or "W" shape marking between their head and their wings (see the area behind head that is a whiteish color in above photo)
Do not like cold weather and can come inside homes for warmth
Emit a foul smelling, staining liquid if feels threatened
Colors can vary from red to orange and can have spots or no spots on their wings (ladybugs are usually bright red with black spots)
How to Prevent Asian Lady Beetle Troubles
As with most pests, the best thing you can do is make sure they stay outside. Seal gaps and cracks around your home that would allow them to come inside when the weather gets cooler. If you see a swarm or have a concern, contact a professional. They have access to safe treatments to help protect your home.
Have questions? Go Green Pest Solutions is here to help.