Goal For The Green

Para-education and green living information

Do Ladybugs Bite?

Nov-29-2009 By Barbara Zak
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jpeg image, female lady beetle, Asian lady bee...
Image via Wikipedia

To set the record straight, the simplest answer is NO they do NOT bite. That is the case for our domestic ladybugs and lady beetles, most commonly found in North America.

However, the multi-colored Asian lady beetles DO bite. Their native habitat is northeast Asia.  However, the U.S Department of Agriculture, introduced the Asian lady beetle to California, back in 1916, to control aphids on pecan trees.  Shortly after this release years ago, they promptly disappeared.  Due to accidental transport, subsequent release, and natural migration, the Asian lady beetle is now found throughout the United States, along with more than 400 other species.

The Asian Lady beetle, is quite effective at controlling soft-bodied pests such as aphids, mites and scale, that are most commonly found in agricultural and domestic garden settings. The mature lady beetles, and their larvae consume hundreds of aphids and pests daily, thus earning their keep and proving their worth as a natural predator.

It is the Asian lady beetle, that is considered a nuisance. These are the ones who commonly invade our homes over the winter to hibernate, stain our cloths, and yes they can and do bite us!

In some cases of infestation, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to the multi-colored Asian lady beetle.  Prolonged exposure to such infestations has been reported to cause allergic reactions in some humans (Yarbrough et al 1999, mangnan et al. 2002).   Some patients have described itchy nose and eyes, sneezing, upper respiratory symptoms, and severe, or persistent asthma.  This is so unfair, to our beautiful non-biting domestic US ladybug.

The Asian lady beetle and the domestic ladybug appear to be identical. Yet, there is one important way to tell the difference. Looking down, from an above vantage point, on the section of the Asian beetle, that separates its tiny head from its winged area, there is a distinguishing mark, that looks much like the letter “M”.  Domestic ladybugs, do not have this characteristic.

If an Asian lady beetle lands on your skin, they are most likely there to explore for moisture or food. You may experience what feels like a bite, however, even most Asian lady beetles do not bite.  It is more of a nibble, that is felt, and they do not break the skin, like most other biting insects do.  They do however, have spurs on the back of their legs that can cause a poking, or pricking sensation, as they are scouting for a meal.

It is good to know that there is no known toxin or disease associated with this activity. If you are particularly sensitive, you may experience some minor pain or swelling associated with this “nibbling.”  So, if you do come upon being nibbled on, please don’t blame the innocent ladybug.  It’s after all, her look-alike, the Asian lady beetle!

See where the cutest ladybugs live!

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  1. Polly Said,

    Just to add a little confusion to the mix – in Britain we call them Ladybirds …. ours are often the tiny two-spotted variety. They are one of the most adored of all of the insects and children play with them – laughing and giggling as they run up and down hands and arms.

    We are however being threatened by a take-over of the more aggressive Asian variety which if given the chance will illiminate our own beautiful native breed,

    As they say in the police force – ‘It’s time to keep your eyes peeled and watch out for the criminals.’
    .-= Polly´s last blog ..Why not … eat insects =-.

  2. admin Said,

    @ Polly,

    Yes, I forgot to mention in this post, that you call them Ladybirds over there in Britain. Thanks so much for your input here.

    It is nice to know that you have been spared so far, from the invasion of the Asain Lady beetle. As you can see from the picture here, the difference between the two varieties. Of course, I’m more partial to the one in my header. She is a more friendlier one! :)

  3. Tweets that mention Do Ladybugs Bite? | -- Topsy.com Said,

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by oims, goalforthegreen. goalforthegreen said: http://is.gd/576G4 Come on by for the answer to this commonly asked question! [...]

  4. corrin Said,

    So that’s the little bugger that bit me! I’ve heard of Ladybirds before, too.
    .-= corrin´s last blog ..Official =-.

  5. BK Said,

    Perhaps Singapore was part of the British colony many many years ago. We do call it ladybird too. I had fond memories of them when I was young; used to look them up along the fences at school. But I never knew that they bite. :)
    .-= BK´s last blog ..WW: It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas =-.

  6. admin Said,

    Thanks to Topsy and oims for the tweet and ping!

  7. admin Said,

    @corrin,

    Yes, remember it is the Asian lady beetle. Hope you still love a ladybug! :)
    Also, they “nibble”, not bite, because they don’t break the skin. It is the
    spurs on their legs that give the poking and pricking feeling, much like a bite!

  8. admin Said,

    @BK,

    Yes, do still love the ladybirds and ladybugs! It is the Asian lady beetle that actually,”nibbles.” They don’t break the skin, like other insect bites do. It is the spurs on their legs,that cause the poking and pricking sensation, much like a bite! :)

  9. Karen Said,

    This comes a just the right time. I have just noticed a bug in my house that my cleaning lady says bites. I believe her. Ugh.

  10. Man Over Board Said,

    I love Lady Bugs and still have some in my home office. They like to hang out with me when I blog :-)
    .-= Man Over Board´s last blog ..Our Goverment Gone Wild For Blogs =-.

  11. admin Said,

    @ Karen,

    If it looks like the one pictured here, then it is probably the Asian lady beetle.
    Hope you still like ladybugs though! :)

  12. admin Said,

    @ Man Over Board,

    Hopefully, you have the right ladies hanging out with you LOL!
    Like the one in my header, not the one in the post! :)

  13. Ladybug Swarm « DIY Projects Said,

    [...] Do Ladybugs Bite? | [...]

  14. forex robot Said,

    nice post. thanks.

  15. marg Said,

    Lady bugs are kind of my favorite bug. I was told at one time that they bring good luck so I am always rescuing them when they fall in the water bucket or something. Great post.

  16. admin Said,

    @ forex robot,

    Thank-You for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Hope to see you here again! :)

  17. admin Said,

    @ marg,

    Thank-You for your comment. The domestic ladybug (like the one in the header ) is my favorite bug. They do no harm, unlike their Asian counterpart! :) I do believe the domestic ladybug, does bring good luck..at least, they rid the gardens of aphids! :)

  18. Laisseraller Said,

    Yes, the Asian Ladybeetle does bite humans but not seriously, New blog on the Hx. of the Ladybug: http://historyoftheladybug.blogspot.com/
    .-= Laisseraller´s last blog ..Archaeladybug =-.

  19. admin Said,

    @ Laisseraller,

    Thank-you for stopping by to comment, and adding further information with your
    link on the history of ladybugs!

  20. A. @ A Changing Life Said,

    It’s odd, I think, that people will let ladybirds (UK again) crawl over their hands, and wouldn’t dream of letting other beetles do the same.
    .-= A. @ A Changing Life´s last blog ..PhotoHunt: curved =-.

  21. admin Said,

    @ A. @ A Changing Life,

    Yes, you are right that is an oddity, I don’t quite understand either. I’ve heard that so far, the
    Asian Lady Beetle, is not a problem for you in the UK. Hopefully, you can remain lucky. :)

  22. WP Robot Said,

    Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for first aid for a heart attack and your post looks very interesting for me.

  23. admin Said,

    @WP Robot,

    Thanks for finding me, and that information found here, was helpful to you. Hope to seen you here again! :)

  24. ConnieFoggles Said,

    I learned something new about Ladybugs. I still love them though. We used to believe that if one landed on us we were lucky. I still believe it :)
    .-= ConnieFoggles´s last blog ..Traditional Italian Christmas Eve Dinner =-.

  25. Barbara Rae Said,

    @ Connie Foggles,

    I love the fact that you learned something new! I’m glad you still love ladybugs! :)

  26. Jimmy Said,

    I believe that ladybugs are something close to god used sometimes by god during miracles. That I believe is the reason most little kids are wearing the customs. The parents have had apparitions miracles performed from god or know someone that has, usually after – ladybugs would appear! I have had this encounter personally! My son past away at two years old me and my wife got pregnant right after. Ten mounts after he passed we had just finished decorating the room for my soon to be daughter. I was in the room there was a cross on the wall I got down on my knees asked god to bless the room and protect my daughter as soon as i stood up the entire room turned white a beautiful white light like a very bright glow every hair on my body stood up I held my arms out then a bunch of lady bugs came threw the window they where on the walls, ceiling, floors everywhere. Two months later my daughter was born on the same day my son was buried, 4 years later we had a Son!!! One verse I always remember,
    Ps.34:17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

  27. Barbara Rae Said,

    @ Jimmy,

    Thank-You so much for this wonderful story! God bless those little ladybugs! :)

  28. Shawn Said,

    Wrong I have been bite twice. Once on the hand and the other time on the ear and it was not a nibble and both times broke the skin. Though I did not examanie it closely to see if it was the native or the introduced species next time I get bit by one will keep it and mail it to you and you tell me!!! ha ha

  29. Barbara Said,

    @ Shawn,

    Usually, they do not bite, although the Asian varieties, are more aggressive.
    I’ll look for that ladybug, form you if it happens again! :)

  30. jess Said,

    I always thought they bit!

    I heard from a friend they bit. Now IM not scared of them.

  31. jess Said,

    I heard from a friend they bit. Now IM not scared of them.

  32. Barbara Zak Said,

    @ jess,

    I’m glad to know you are not afraid of ladybugs. As stated it is
    the Asian variety that does bite. They usually are the different
    colored ones with white markings on their heads.

  33. Barbara Zak Said,

    @ jess,

    I’m glad I was able to ease your mind with information on ladybugs and if they
    bite. Some people may be extra sensitive to the felling of a ladybug. However,
    the one we have here in the U.S. most often DO NOT bite. It is the Asian varieties
    that do.