Ladybugs are known to be a symbol of good luck. People say when a ladybug lands on you, you should count the spots, and that’s the number of months you will be favored. They are one of the most popular insects because of their cuteness and red and black dots.
While the symbolism may seem unpredictable, having a ladybug infestation in your home can be trouble and pain. Although native ladybugs are good beetles, the ones that can wreak havoc in your yard are most probably Asian Lady Beetles. Their differences can be identified by the “M” or “W’ mark in their heads, which native ladybugs don’t have.
Aphids, scales, mites, and other insects are the main reason why you have lots of ladybugs in your yard. When the infestation is too much to handle, you can use a vacuum, vinegar trap, or indoor insecticide to deter and exterminate the “bad” beetles. Citronella and citrus scents also prevent ladybugs from getting into your home, and you can eliminate them with diatomaceous earth or by planting a mum.
In this article, we will discuss and identify the differences between native ladybugs and Asian Lady beetles as to whether they are good or bad. We will also talk about how to attract ladybugs in your yard and the benefits of having them in your yard.
Identifying Good vs. Bad Ladybugs in Your Yard
Ladybugs are the best natural pest and insect controllers. They have an insatiable and huge appetite for aphids and other insects. However, there’s confusion as to whether ladybugs are good in your garden or a nuisance that needs to be eliminated.
The reason for this is Asian Lady Beetles. They look identical to ladybugs when it comes to color, but are not as nice. To spot the differences, look for a white “M” or “W” shape mark behind the bug’s head. On the other hand, native ladybug’s heads are all black.
Asian Lady Beetles vs. Ladybugs
Did you know that ladybugs are beetles? There are thousands of species of lady beetles around the globe. Some of them are now rare, like the 9-spotted ladybug, while the meddlesome Asian Lady beetles are crowded out in their population.
Ladybugs and Asian Lady beetles have the same huge appetite for aphids and other insects. However, they remain very different. Native ladybugs primarily devour aphids and other insects and are the ones in your garden eating all the insects. Thus, don’t harm them and let them invade your beloved plants. Besides, when it’s cold outside, they won’t seek shelter in warm places, like your home. Finally, ladybugs do not bite.
Asian lady beetles, on the other hand, invade warm houses and buildings when it’s cold, emit an extremely bad odor to shoo away predators, and leave yellow stains when they land in one of your precious furniture before they die. They can also be toxic to animals, including to your beloved pets.
Asian Lady Beetles are also known as Japanese lady beetles, harlequin ladybirds, or Halloween bugs. These little creatures can be aggressive and can even bite you and your pets if you make contact. Asian Lady Beetles also could cause some allergies, and if you happen to touch them or come in contact with them, you may experience coughing, asthma, hives, hay fever, or even pink eye.
They are native to Asia and always hang out in trees and fields, eating aphids and other scale insects. They mostly live in plants like soybeans, roses, alfalfa, tobacco, and corn crops.
Aphids may look harmless and will not cause any nuisance to you, but their tiny sap-suckers will suck the life out of your plants. If you’re a plantsman or a farmer who has acres of crop, having a “good” ladybug around is a great idea as it eats the insects without ruining your crops or plants.
The Life Stages of a Ladybug
Ladybugs start to lay their thousands of yellow-cream oval eggs in the spring or early summer. They usually lay them under leaves or in the stems. The stage lasts for about a week.
A young ladybug at a larvae stage has a black alligator-like appearance with some red or orange markings and three pairs of legs. It looks very strange, but when at a pupa stage, the ladybug transforms in its iconic shape and familiar look.
Although they may have a similar appearance, the Asian Lady Beetle has dark and black spots, while some other beetles have lighter to no spots at all. Their life cycle is no different from that of a native ladybug, and the only way you could recognize their differences is when they reach the adult stage, when the markings on their heads become visible.
Benefits of Having Ladybugs in Your Yard
Are you seeing native ladybugs in your yard? This could be a good sign for it means you will have fewer problems regarding pests, especially aphids, which suck all the nutrients of your plant and can also transmit viruses to your plants.
What are the Benefits of Ladybugs in the Garden?
An adult ladybug can eat hundreds of aphids in a day, and in its lifetime, can consume thousands of them. Ladybugs can only live for a year, and sometimes diapause or hibernate up to 9 months to survive the cold weather. Once warm, they fly again.
Ladybugs also feed on other soft-bodied, plant-eating insects like mites, scales, thrips, or whiteflies. These kinds of insects can badly affect your garden, especially your flowers and vegetables. So, having a native ladybug means reduced expenses on insecticides for they do the work of crunching them.
Can I Purchase Ladybugs for My Garden?
You can buy ladybugs from commercial vendors, gardening catalogs, or even on Amazon. The most common species is the 12-spotted ladybug. Nine-spotted ladybugs are native to the Southern U.S., while seven-spotted ladybugs are usually found in European yards.
Ladybugs are collected during the fall and are encased and sold to organic growers across the globe.
When you receive your purchased ladybug, refrigerate the container for 6-8 hours. This calms them and will keep them from flying away due to the cold temperatures. But don’t worry, the cold doesn’t bother them. It is important to purchase a ladybug that best fits your climate.
How Do I Release My Ladybugs into the Garden?
It is important to consider the time and place where you are releasing your ladybugs. Let them go at dusk or dawn for the sun’s heat encourages ladybug to take wing. They can easily adapt to their new home with the light and cool temperatures and grow active when the sun rises. Morning dew gives ladybugs the water they need and encourages them to stay and live well.
Releasing them at sunset makes them settle in for the night since the outdoor temperatures have cooled down and the light has decreased. You can release them on insect or aphid-infested plants to encourage them to stay. Also, provide them abundant food, and know that ladybugs are attracted to moist, so make sure to water the plants before you release them.
Can I Breed Ladybugs?
Breeding a ladybug isn’t an impossible thing to do in your yard. You can encourage them to multiply in your yard by making a breeding container. For that, you need to purchase a ladybug, or if you already have some in your garden, collect them and place them in a transparent container with a lid cover.
It is also best if you have an aphid-infested leaf or stem to put into the container, together with a wet cotton ball, to provide them with a water source. Finally, cover the lid, and you have a breeding box!
You can also build your own ladybug house with your children for some learning experience and science projects in the yard. Here’s how to do it and what you need:
- Wood from a 1” x 6” x 8” cedar board
- 8 pieces 1.5” spiral nails
- Adhesive glue
- Hollow bamboo, squash, and dried alliums stems
Cut 2 pieces of 8”x6” sideboards, 1 baseboard of 6”x6”, 1 overhang board size of 6.5”x6”, and 1 of 12”x6” backboard. Use a cedar wood board with 1”x6”x8” dimensions.
Using 1.5” nails, hammer the cut wood to assemble it like a box with an open side. Cut the hollowed stems into 5.5” length.
Paint the assembled ladybug house and let it dry before putting the stems. After painting it, chop the hollowed stems into 5.5” lengths. Layer them inside the ladybug house, then secure it with glue and wait for it to dry.
Once your ladybug house is ready, hang or mount it on the wall or fence near your garden. Then, enjoy watching these native and beneficial ladybugs explore your garden.
Two Techniques to Attract Ladybugs in Your Yard
Ladybugs are ravenous insects. Having an abundance of aphids, mites, scales, and other insects in your garden will attract a ladybug to visit and eat these insects. Pollen and insect pests are the only two things that a ladybug can eat.
Here are the two techniques that you can use to attract ladybugs in your yard.
1. Attract them using pollen
If you have these two items in your garden, the ladybugs will surely fly in for they need them to survive. Ladybugs like several pollen plants, which usually have a flat yellow or white flower looking like a landing pad.
Here are some of the flowers that attract ladybugs:
- Sweet Alyssum
- Yarrow Angelica
2. Attract them using insects
The other way of attracting a ladybug into your garden is having enough aphids or insects for them to eat. It may seem pointless to put insects in your yard, but these will attract ladybugs. Leaving aphids and other insects in your plant as a lure is a good idea, but there also are decoy plants that attract aphids and insects while keeping your desired plant bug-free as you wait for the ladybug to come and munch them all.
Here are some decoy plants that can be used in attracting aphids:
- Early cabbage
A shallow-water feeder will also attract ladybugs to your yard. However, avoid using insecticides for they shoo away, but also eliminate and kill both ladybugs and other insects.
Besides, make sure that there are enough food, shelter, and water sources in your garden to keep ladybugs there. Keep your garden as a good shelter for the ladybugs to settle down and the best place for them to lay their eggs.
You can also purchase organic insect attractants and use them to attract and encourage ladybugs to visit your garden. Also, you can make a DIY insect-attractant spray using household ingredients. To do so, mix 10 parts of water, 1 part sugar, 1 part brewer’s yeast, and put them in a spray bottle. Then, spray the mixture on your plants and wait for it to attract ladybugs.
Ants are mostly harmless, but they can be quite annoying when they start invading your personal space. They can also cause damage to your plants which is another reason to purge them from your property. Read our article to know about 12 ways to get rid of ants in your yard.
5 Ways to Getting Rid of Ladybugs
Ladybugs are a great idea for insect and aphid control but they sometimes become a handful and annoying once they start infesting your home.
Thus, seal any leak and cracks they might enter through and make your home pest-proof. Also, ensure that all the windows and doors are tightly fitted and that their screens are not ripped or torn. If they manage to enter nonetheless, vacuum them or you use sticky tape to get them. Although, avoid squishing them for they will only incur stains and emit toxic odors.
They are many ways to eliminate ladybugs in your home, which we will discuss below.
1. Vacuum Them Up
Avoid touching ladybugs with your bare hands or making contact with them. If you found an infestation of ladybugs at your home, use a vacuum cleaner instead. Simply vacuum them up and remove them from the vacuum cleaner once you’re done collecting them. Then, throw them away in a sealed plastic bag, which will prevent them from coming back.
2. Spray Vinegar
Get a spray bottle and put a dash of vinegar in it. Spray it directly onto the ladybug infestation in your home. Vinegar will remove the pheromones as well as the odors released by ladybugs. Ladybugs releasing pheromones will only attract more ladybugs.
3. Dish Soap & Light Trap
Ladybugs are most likely to get drawn by the water as they are to light. In a small bowl, fill in water and a drop of dish soap, and place it next to the window with bright lighting. Dish soap prevents ladybugs from escaping for it removes the tension in the water.
To eradicate ladybugs in the dark area of your house, set up a light trap. You can purchase an insect light trap in the nearest garden center in your town. Place it in areas like your cupboards, attic, or other places where there are plenty of ladybugs.
Once the device is full of ladybugs, take it out and release them. Light traps are a great idea to eliminate ladybugs from your homes without harming them. They will try to fly back again into the light, but instead, they will fall into the collection container, which they can’t fly out of unless you release them.
4. Use Aerosol Insecticides
For a large indoor ladybug infestation, you can use an aerosol insecticide. These can be bought at your local grocery store or home improvement depot. Read the instructions carefully and follow them before you hunt down a ladybug infestation.
Insecticides will instantly kill the ladybugs. But, always before purchasing it, check whether the product is safe to use indoors and is not harmful to kids and pets. Besides, don’t forget to wear gloves when using insecticides. Apply it regularly on your window, door frames, and in your attic and other areas in your house where ladybug infestation occurs.
5. Hire Pest Control Team
If the ladybug infestation is hard to manage and is severe, you can call a pest control professional. Severe infestations rarely occur, even so, calling a professional prevents the infestation from growing and saves you time and effort.
5 Methods to Prevent Ladybugs from Entering Your Home
We also got you covered when you want to eliminate and prevent ladybugs from entering your home. Here are some preventive measures you can try.
1. Use citronella and citrus candles or oil
To deter ladybugs and prevent them from entering your home, use citronella candles and citrus oils, as ladybugs don’t like these smells. When you want to leave your doors open, leaving a scented candle or dropping and spraying citrus oil around the entrances and windows prevents bugs from entering. In this case, the ideal scents to use are lemon, lime, orange, and mandarin.
2. Placing a bag of clover or Bay Leaves
Place a combination of clover and bay leaves in a small plastic bag, then place the bag on your door, window, and other entrances from which ladybug can enter. Focus on putting these bags in the entrances near your garden or heavily planted areas where ladybugs are most likely to stay. Ladybugs don’t like the smell of clovers and bay leaves, so using these plants can discourage them from entering your home.
3. Placing weatherstrip in the entrances
Ladybugs enter your home during the winter as they hibernate until spring is in. Placing weatherstripping minimizes the opening in the entrances. You can buy this peel-and-stick roll of weatherstripping in the nearest home depot store. To use this, cut the strips based on the size of your windows and doors, remove the back paper, and stick the sticky or adhesive side to every entrance.
Weatherstripping also stops water and cold air from entering your home. However, make sure to replace it as soon as it wears out.
4. Installation of Window Screens
Window screens (usually pre-made) can be purchased at your local home depot store depending on the size of your window. Installing these keeps insects from entering your home. Although, always secure the pressure clips so that your window screens are tightly locked.
Known for its cute appearance, a ladybug can enter your home using tiny entrances. However, caulking these small entrances from the exterior blocks the insects and ladybugs from going into your home. Check the utility pipes, frames, and exterior walls for small cracks or even holes, and apply the caulk in every opening. Make sure you have properly sealed the entrances to prevent ladybugs from going inside.
3 Ways to Get Rid of Ladybugs in Your Yard
Are ladybugs are getting annoying? Then they might not be native ladybugs but Asian Lady beetles. Indeed, Asian Lady beetles are known for eating insects, entering your home, and ruining your plants. Luckily, there are several ways to get rid of them off.
1. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is an effective way to exterminate ladybugs in your yard or garden. When using diatomaceous earth, remember to wear protective goggles or a face mask, as well as gloves, to avoid breathing in the powder. Sprinkle and scatter this around your garden bed and around your house to prevent ladybugs from entering your house.
Diatomaceous earth is safe to use and not harmful to your pets and children. However, it kills other beneficial insects, like honeybees.
2. Planting Mums in Your Yard
To discourage Asian lady beetles from coming inside your house and pestering your plants, you can plant mums around your yard. Having plenty of these plants in your yard repels and discourages the “bad” bugs, and also protects your neighboring plants. Remember to water your mums regularly for them to thrive.
3. Use Outdoor Insecticides
When the infestation of ladybugs is difficult to manage and control, you can opt for outdoor insecticides. Those can be easily found at your local gardening shop and are commonly packed and sold in bags of dust, powders, or sprays.
It is important to check the label, ensure that it is not harmful to your pets and children, and religiously follow the instructions and directions as you apply it to your yard. Also, remember to always wear a mask or goggles, as well as protective gloves when handling outdoor pesticides.
Having ladybugs in your yard is a good idea since they are great pest controllers, but sometimes, native ladybugs are overbred by Asian Lady beetles. Unfortunately, the latter tends to cause more damage not only to your plants, but also to your home, pets, and children. Thus, make sure to know the differences between a ladybug and an Asian Lady beetle before you try to exterminate them.
Ladybugs are voracious beetles that devour aphids, scales, mites, and other insects. This makes them ideal insects to have in your backyard since they get rid of pests for you. If you want to have more ladybugs in your garden, there are options for you to nurture and breed these colorful and helpful insects. But, if your garden is infested with Asian Lady beetles, follow the tips that we shared in this article to get rid of them for good.