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Do Ladybugs Bite?

Do Ladybugs BITE? And How Can You Keep Them Out of the House?

Question. Dear Mike: Love, love, LOVEyour show!! I am a dedicated listener. Now, would you please be so kindas to settle an argument between my Mother and I? (A lobster dinner isin my future if I am correct!) The Question is: Do Ladybugs (the gardenvariety ladybug we all know and love) bite?  My mother insiststhat she received a nasty bite from a ladybug. I say "hogwash", there'sno way these sweet little girlies would ever bite—she must have had arun in with some other mean old bug in a ladybug costume. Thank youMike, I can taste the lobster already!   

            ---Feona inKutztown, Pennsylvania

Hi Mike: I love your show even though I don't have a garden. (Mygirlfriend does and I learn a lot about how to help her. I wish yourshow was three hours long—at least!) Anyway, I wanted to give you aheads up on ladybugs that bite. My parents live in Southern Delawarealong the Indian River, and their house is filled with bugs that looklike ladybugs, but the black spots on them are all in a row, and theybite. They are loaded with them now. New sewers were recently put in bya contractor who used South American workers—could they have broughtthe bugs here?

            ---Steve inEast Norriton

Answer. Sorry, Feona—looks like thelobster wins this time. (And NEVER bet against your mother—that's asbad as a husband thinking he can 'win' an argument with hiswife!)  Steve is correct about the ladies' ability—and perhapspropensity—to nibble away, although he's several continents off on hisgeography. The ladybugs invading homes almost everywhere in the countrythis time of year are from Asia, not South America.

They were released years ago to combat crop pests, but promptlydisappeared. Then they showed up again years later—gaining notice whenthey began invading our homes to hibernate over winter, as they used todo in caves back home. As with the ones Steve's parents are battling,their markings can be all over the place compared to those of the"Convergent" ladies we're so familiar with. That's why this strain arecalled "multicolored Asian ladybugs."

And yes: I too, was at first suspicious about the biting stories. Butmany people have emailed to ask about it—and to report being bit! So Iturned once again to one of my favorite entomological experts, formerbeneficial insect specialist for the Canadian government, and nowprivate IPM Consultant Dr. Linda Gilkeson, who lives on Salt SpringIsland in British Columbia.

She replies: "You bet those little critters can bite! They don't haveany kind of venom or irritating saliva (like mosquitoes, black flies,etc.), but they are just big enough for us to feel it when they pinchour skin.

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