Asian Lady Beetles Vs. Ladybugs: How Do They Differ?

Asian lady beetles and ladybugs share quite a few similarities. In addition to coming from the same kingdom and phylum, they also share the same class and order. The insects also look somewhat similar, being roughly the same size and having characteristic dots on top of their shell. However, there are also some distinctive differences between the similar looking bugs.

Physical Differences
The most prominent physical difference between the insects is found on top of their shell. On the portion of the shell that covers the head, Asian lady beetles have markings that appear to form a “W”. Shell color also differs. The shell of an Asian lady beetle is yellowish orange and may not have distinct spots, whereas the shell of a ladybug is red and almost always features black spots.

Body size is another difference. An Asian lady beetle often reaches a length of 7 mm, but a mature lady bug typically reaches a length of 8 to 10 mm. The difference in length is often unnoticeable to the naked eye. Consequently, identifying Asian lady beetles based on their unique markings and color is the generally the best way for homeowners to determine whether the bugs are present.

Behavioral Differences
The biggest behavioral difference between Asian lady beetles and ladybugs is that the former hibernate during cold weather. The hibernation is precipitated by another difference between the insects: Asian lady beetles commonly swarm at the end of the warm season, often congregating on the exterior of light colored houses, particularly on surfaces that receive plenty of sunlight.

The congregation of the insects on the exterior of a home is typically how an Asian lady beetle infestation begins. Although the insects don’t infest a structure in search of food, as ants and roaches do, the will infest a residence in search of a warm place to hibernate for the winter.

Another behavioral difference between ladybugs and Asian lady beetles is the tendency of the
latter to bite humans. Strangely, the bite of an Asian lady beetle rarely seems to be defensive.

Rather, the insects seem to have a natural proclivity to bite the flesh of those on whom they land. The bite of the insect is not very painful, but it can be highly annoying when it starts to happen regularly.

Historical Differences
Unlike the red shelled insect we call a ladybug, the Asian lady beetle didn’t come to American soil naturally. It was purposefully introduced. According to the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment at the University of Kentucky, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture attempted to establish the Asian lady beetle to control agricultural pests, especially of pecans and apples.”

Asian lady beetles still work well for this purpose, as they dine on pests that enjoying devouring pecans, apples, and other cash crops. However, the protection they offer crops comes at a price: When cold weather hits, the insects are likely to invade the nearest structure that provides warmth. That structure might be a utility shed on a farm, but it could also be your residence.

Have an Asian Lady Beetle Problem?
For homeowners, knowing the difference between the seasonal occurrence of a few Asian lady beetles in the home and a full-blown infestation can be difficult. This is because the majority of an infestation is likely to be located in areas that are hidden away, such as attics, crawl spaces, and inside walls and ceilings. If you think that you have an Asian lady beetle problem in your home or building, Helper’s will perform a careful inspection and let you know the score.

To schedule a free inspection of your home or building for the presence of Asian lady beetles, call us today at (314) 732-1413, or email us at info@holperspest.com.