Ladybug Infestation? How To Get Rid of Ladybugs (Invasive Asian Beetle Control)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | April 2, 2024

Man wondering about a ladybug infestation and how to recognize ladybugs vs lady beetles and asian beetles that bite, as well as how to control and prevent asian beetles and when to call a professional.

Think you may have a ladybug infestation? Ladybugs are lovely, delicate, beautiful, and a fine solution for controlling aphids, but not all little spotted beetles are the same.

Asian Beetles look similar, but the color of their carapace tends to be more orange, and they bite.

If you’re not sure whether you’re dealing with invasive Asian Beetles or ladybugs, you’ll know if you go to pick one up and get a bite.1

So if you’re wondering, do ladybugs bite, the answer is no, ladybugs don’t bite!

But how do you get rid of ladybugs in your home or garden, and do you even need to?

When people say “ladybug infestation,” usually invasive Asian Beetles are what they mean.

Real ladybugs seldom produce infestation.2 Invasive Asian Beetle control has known best practices.

This guide will explore what causes invasive Asian Beetle or ‘ladybug’ infestation, and what you can do about it.

What Is an Asian Lady Beetle or Asian Beetle?

There is definitely some confusion here; just what is an “Asian Lady Beetle,” or as it’s sometimes expressed an “Asian Beetle?”

In the earlier part of the 20th century, varying persons in power across the United States were seeking effective means of pest control.

In 1916, the “invasive Asian Beetle” was released, also known as the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, a yellow-to-red bug with about 16 black spots on its back and a white “M” or “W” (depending on which perspective you see the bug from) on its head.

It took 72 years from the time of the bug’s release until it became numerous enough to be notable. In the eighties, infestations of the invasive Asian Lady Beetle were observed in Louisiana.3

These pests are very different from Ladybugs, which can be a huge benefit for any gardener.

Invasive Asian Beetle

(Harmonia axyridis)

Ladybug in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Description: Orange or yellow beetles like Ladybugs with a yellow “m” or “w” on their heads
  • Natural Habitat: Forests, Orchards and Soybean Fields
  • Locations: China, Russia, Korea, Japan, and from 1916+ across North America

Image Credit: Myriams-Fotos22

Today, one of the states where Asian beetles are most prevalent is Iowa.4

Also, the beetle has transferred to the USA “naturally” on oceangoing vessels. Whether this species exists deliberately or incidentally is still debated.

Generally, invasive Asian Lady Beetles are seen as positive.

If you want to learn how to get rid of aphids in your plants, these beetles will be your best friends. They control aphids in Pecan orchards,5 and are generally excellent predators in the insect kingdom; especially for prey that commonly vex farmers.

But they will bite you, and they will seep a stinky, allergenic yellow fluid if disturbed. This is called “reflex bleeding.”6

The fluid can stain fabric, curtains, or other cloth items. Also, a single bug can lay 1,000 eggs that will be full-grown bugs in about a month’s time.7

You can go from zero to full ladybug infestation in a single month. Compounding the reality is their predilection for wintering in human dwellings.

Ladybug infestation: Are Ladybugs Poisonous, and Is There Ladybug Spray?

One of the reasons people ask “are ladybugs poisonous” is because they’ve been pinched by an invasive Asian Beetle.8 Especially in Iowa, such faux ladybug infestations may even prompt you to wonder, “Is there ladybug spray?”

Well, yes there is,9 but it’s often chemical. There are non-chemical alternatives, like vacuum cleaners, which can be used if the beetles swarm in windowsills or on ceilings.

You really need to be diligent to capture all the pests, though; just 2 of them become 1,000 inside a month, however, they don’t produce indoors.10 Even so, there’s good reason to use chemical pesticide solutions.

Asian Lady Beetles aren’t poisonous, and they do control pests like aphids. When they’re indoors, it’s usually a seasonal issue.

They’ll start coming inside during autumn, then stick around through the winter. If there aren’t a lot of bugs in your house they can eat, they’ll die off from starvation.

Still, they can stain things, they bite a lot more often than online articles tend to admit, and generally, they’re a nuisance. Also, you may be allergic;11 another reason to be rid of them.

How Do Invasive Asian Ladybugs Reproduce?

So just how do ladybugs reproduce? Well, firstly, not all “ladybugs” are female.

They’ve all got beautiful ladylike coloration, but they are male and female. After fertilization, eggs hatch into larvae that transition through several phases before pupation, metamorphosis, and adulthood.

A group of Asian Lady Beetles with varying patterns and colors, including orange, yellow, and black, on a textured gray surface.

(Image: Pbech18)

These beetles are produced multiple times during the year, and individual adults can live up to 3 years. Ladybugs, classic ladybugs, are the healthiest and most productive when feeding on aphids, though their lifespans are shorter.

Other varieties feed on “scale insects,”12 lay eggs singly, and live longer. They tend to be smaller.

Asian Lady Beetles are similar. The females will sometimes hold out for partners with the same coloration as themselves.

These invasive beetles mate with multiple partners as often as they’re able, and if they can’t find one, they emit pheromones to attract one;13 a single beetle in your home could become many very quickly.

Generally, two broods are produced in a season, but that can go as high as five in a given area. In total, it’s possible for one female to lay more than 1,000 eggs in a season.

If all things went perfectly, one invasive Asian Lady Beetle could produce 5,000 offspring in one year. That’s unlikely, but it’s possible, and now the reason for such faux ladybug infestation is clearly seen: these little bugs can get after it.

Ladybug Infestation: How To Keep Ladybugs Away From Sensitive Plants

There are numerous strategies for how to keep ladybugs away from sensitive plants. First, remember that ladybugs and invasive Asian Lady Beetles are not a danger to any plant;14 at least not directly.

If you see hundreds of them on a bush, that means you’ve got two infestations: the invasive Asian Lady Beetles, and whatever aphid or aphid-like scale bugs have a prolific presence on the plant in question.

The easiest way to keep lady beetles off plants is to get rid of their food source; little aphids. To that end, you can use pesticides.

An Asian beetle with black spots on its yellow-orange shell rests on a green plant stem.

(Image: MelaniMarfeld19)

However, a pesticide is poison, and that’s not ideal. In a certain sense, Asian or otherwise, lady beetles are the pest control.

So if you do see an outside infestation, don’t worry about what the red, orange, and yellow bugs are doing to your crop. Worry about what drew them in the first place.

If you can protect against bugs like aphids, there’s no reason for Asian Lady Beetles to set up shop in your crop. You can remove aphids by hand, though this is difficult because they’re hard to see.

Neem oil, essential oil, and a simple soap and water spray can also be helpful.15

Invasive Ladybugs and How To Kill Them Safely

When you’re dealing with invasive ladybugs, the way to handle them will likely involve measures that naturally discourage them. You need to learn how to kill ladybugs safely.

The best methods will depend on where and when the infestation has occurred.

If your infestation is indoors during winter, a vacuum can do the trick, and the bugs won’t go outdoors because it’s too cold; so they shouldn’t reproduce. If you see a bug in October, and another in January, it’s probably the same one and not a descendant.

Just be sure to empty the bag of your vacuum properly, and to do so somewhere the bugs won’t get out again after you’ve removed them.

Dish soap can also help; just mix some with water in a spray bottle and soak the bugs. The mixture is toxic to them, and the soap makes their retreat quite difficult.

Of course, there are pesticides for such unwanted insects as well, but they’re generally chemical and could expose children, pets, or even other adults who aren’t aware you’ve recently sprayed.

How To Get Rid of Ladybugs Causing an Issue

If you’re in the process of determining how to get rid of ladybugs, you’ve got multiple options. Indoors, vacuums, and soapy water while outdoors pesticides are used.

Another method is proactive preparation. You can seal your home with proper caulk, and check around varying doors or windows to assure no entry points.

A ladybug with orange wings and black spots rests on the textured surface of a green leaf.

(Image: jhenning21)

If you’re dealing with an external ladybug infestation, keep your home garden healthy and trimmed.

Where there are bushy areas that haven’t been attended to, bugs like aphids abound attracting Asian Lady Beetles. Also, like other bugs, invasive Asian Lady Beetles simply love light.

Turning off lights near your home or property at night could help diminish faux ladybug infestation.

That said, you can also use the love for light these insects have as a lure. You can make a ladybug light trap.16

Another option is to use bay leaves or cloves as a source of smells these bugs hate. If you don’t mind the smell of cloves or bay leaves, pump it through your exterior premises to drive the pests off.

In a nutshell, external solutions to eradicate invasive Asian Lady Beetles include:

  • Conventional pesticide
  • Properly trimming your backyard garden
  • Diminishing external light sources at night
  • Alternatively, using light traps to trick the bugs
  • Employing scent deterrent with cloves or bay leaves

Ladybug Infestation: DIY Ladybug Pest Control

There are numerous DIY ladybug pest control options, whether you’re indoors or outdoors. Vacuums work fine indoors, as do soap and water.

You can use scent deterrents indoors or outdoors, light traps are an option, there are pesticide sprays, and more.

A cluster of orange and spotted beetles gather in the corner of a cracked wall.

(Image: Syrio20)

Unless invasive Asian Lady Beetles are causing you allergic distress, they’re excessively fond of biting you, or they’ve stained some key fabrics in your home while producing a nasty smell, you could conceivably leave them alone.

Most will die out on their own in the winter. Still, driving them out, killing them with soap, vacuuming them up, or other measures can help.

In most scenarios, you should be able to handle the faux ladybug infestation on your own. However, there are times when an exterminator is needed.

When To Call an Exterminator for Ladybug Issues

It can be a challenge to determine when calling an exterminator for ladybug issues is best. Here are indicators you may need a pro:

  • Allergic reactions impact your ability to exterminate pests
  • Financial realities require more affordable, professional options
  • Infestations are in an unsafe area of the home you cannot access
  • Liability concerns define a given property where infestation is
  • Sometimes, the only option is spraying toxic chemicals in large quantities

Sometimes your body reacts strongly to even the smallest allergens. If you’re sneezing, nauseous, stuffed up, or have itchy eyes, or headaches, you may be too allergic for the job.17

In that scenario, you would want an exterminator. Even after you vacuum up the bugs, you could continue to sneeze from deceased Asian Lady Beetle detritus in the vacuum bag.

Next, a large enough infestation may be too expensive for you to handle on your own. Say you run a fabric store that has incidentally become infested, and the bugs stain all your fabrics.

You’re losing inventory, and the little bugs have hidden throughout the premises. You may not be able to eradicate them on your own.

You may have to spend multiple days chasing them down. Now you’ve lost a legitimate opportunity.

Opportunity cost is a financial consideration. Beyond the direct costs of materials and losses from fabric stains, you’re losing time and the potential for lucrative business meetings.

In that scenario, you want an exterminator. Even if you’re not running a fabric shop, you may want to go this route should the infestation occur when you’re not at home, or at a time when you haven’t got two seconds to squish together owing to more important obligations.

Next, an infestation could be in an attic you can’t safely access without putting yourself or your family in danger. Hire an exterminator who has insurance should he get hurt.

Never seek to eradicate pests when doing so requires you to crawl up on a tipsy ladder thirty feet in the air, or take some other notable risk. Leave these situations to the pros.

Similarly, at public institutions and private companies, there could be legal realities surrounding how infestations are handled that predicate working with professional exterminators. If that’s the case, you’d best follow established protocols for such infestation.

Lastly, sometimes you don’t have time to go with “safe” measures, and you’re dealing with an exceptionally large infestation. Maybe you’re husbanding plants that produce aphids as a means of studying invasive lady beetles, and it’s time to exterminate them to start the next test.

Well, hiring an exterminator could save time and money.

What To Look for in a Ladybug Exterminator

You want to know what to look for in a ladybug exterminator. Here are a few ways you can collaterally determine a good fit:

  • Compare pricing
  • Ask local friends and family you trust
  • Call exterminators and ask leading questions
  • Look for well-reviewed exterminators online
  • Determine which extermination methods you agree with
  • Inquire among friends and family if repeat infestations occurred after extermination
  • Seek exterminators who are licensed, bonded, and insured

First, compare prices of localized options in your area that offer ladybug infestation solutions. “Cheap” isn’t always “better;” “expensive” isn’t always “bad.”

Consistency and growth are more important in either scenario. A business that consistently grows and asks a relatively similar rate for work is one that does a good job, knows their worth, and only changes as necessary, not as opportunity suggests.

Next, see what local friends or family in whom you trust have to say. You might not want to take their words infallibly; many close associates have personal foibles that can impact judgment.

However, a little advice can help you determine what the right move is. If you’re still not sure, call a few exterminators up and ask leading questions based on the issues friends and family have raised.

This is the same strategy you use when finding an auto mechanic for something you aren’t able to handle mechanically.

When you think you’ve discovered the right exterminator, double-check reviews online. Some extermination pros can tell you everything you need to hear, but then don’t perform.

Online reviews ought to indicate their performance capability. Be discerning enough to find exterminators who have many reviews and a decimalized rating.

An exterminator with only 10 reviews might have had his friends and family give him positive ratings. An exterminator with 1,000 reviews likely won’t be able to do that.

Focus on the negative reviews if there are overwhelmingly positive reviews. Focus on the positive reviews if there are overwhelmingly negative entries.

Balance what you read, and use discretion to determine if the reviewer was accurate, or not.

Next, the determination you make may simply be rooted in extermination methods. Maybe you only want to go with an ecologically friendly option.

If that’s the case, you automatically exclude numerous pest control pros. If you use this as a delineating factor, subsequently apply the other tips advised here.

Additionally, ask friends or family who have used a given extermination service whether they had to call said exterminator multiple times.

If an exterminator is effective, you should only need them once per pest. Lastly, look for exterminators who are licensed, bonded, and insured.

Assuring Only Ladybugs You Want Stick Around

Ladybugs are themselves a form of organic pest control. Asian Beetles were introduced under the assumption they would do the same sort of “work” more efficiently.

In fact, they are regarded as a positive infestation; but these bugs can cause people to have allergic reactions, they emit foul smells, stain things, and bite. Also, they tend to reproduce very fast and can overwhelm you suddenly.

While the bugs pose no inherent threat as such, they are usually a nuisance. If you’ve got an infestation and DIY methods like soap spray or vacuums don’t do the trick, it may be best to contact an exterminator you trust.

With the potential of a ladybug infestation, not all lady beetles are pleasant, but you can control them with the right measures.


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