True ladybugs are not actually bugs but members of the beetle family. These little red beetles with black spots or no spots have traditionally been signs of good luck and harbingers or romance. Touted in children’s rhymes and songs, ladybugs are quite useful in controlling garden pests such as aphids. During the early 1900s and again in the 1960s through the 1980s, the multicolored Asian lady beetles were imported to rid crops such as citrus and pecan trees and alfalfa of mites, aphids and scale insects. This beetle is a little larger than the native ladybug, has an orange or yellow back with either black or no spots and is usually the culprit found in homes.
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Occasionally, one or two ladybugs are found on plants inside the home or in home greenhouses. This is not a cause for alarm unless more arrive, as these have mistakenly ventured into the house and will try and eventually succeed in finding their way outside.
As winter approaches, the Asian lady beetles start looking for warm places to hibernate, and once one has found a location such as behind baseboards and in walls it will send out pheromones which will invite more of the species to come. If the location of the beetles does not cause problems, leaving them alone is one option as they will find their way outdoors once the outside temperature warms.
Swarms of Asian lady beetles appear in houses that are painted in lighter colors. They also spread across ceilings and congregate on walls and windows, especially during September through November as this is the time they are searching for hibernation areas. Getting rid of ladybugs requires patience and a large shop vacuum. Vacuuming the area repeatedly, then emptying the bag into a sealable plastic bag far from the house, will lessen the problem. In the spring, when lady beetles come out of hibernation, the vacuuming process will need to be repeated quite a few more times. Ladybug traps and specialized ladybug vacuums are available. Since these beetles do not breed or feed indoors, they are annoying but don't pose any actual problem.
When they are scared, Asian lady beetles give off yellow fluid called “reflective bleeding” that is actually their blood. These stubborn stains appear on rugs, furniture and walls which may require professional steam cleaning.
Allergies such as eye irritations and asthma have been linked to Asian lady beetles. If a member of the family has allergies and the cause cannot be found, consider looking for Asian lady beetles in the house.
Asian lady beetles give off a recognizable foul odor when they release their yellow fluid. Although this odor is a safety mechanism for the beetle to ward off predators, it is quite noticeable and noxious to a household environment.
Unexplained bites may be from these beetles. Asian lady beetles have been known to bite humans. These bites feel like pinpricks or pinches and are not usually serious.