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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, LOVE your show!! I am a dedicated listener. Now, would you please be so kind as to settle an argument between my Mother and I? (A lobster dinner is in my future if I am correct!) The Question is: Do Ladybugs (the garden variety ladybug we all know and love) bite?  My mother insists that she received a nasty bite from a ladybug. I say "hogwash", there's no way these sweet little girlies would ever bite—she must have had a run in with some other mean old bug in a ladybug costume. Thank you Mike, I can taste the lobster already!   

    ---Feona in Kutztown, Pennsylvania

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

    ---Steve in East Norriton

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

They were released years ago to combat crop pests, but promptly disappeared. Then they showed up again years later—gaining notice when they began invading our homes to hibernate over winter, as they used to do 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 are called "multicolored Asian ladybugs."

And yes: I too, was at first suspicious about the biting stories. But many people have emailed to ask about it—and to report being bit! So I turned once again to one of my favorite entomological experts, former beneficial insect specialist for the Canadian government, and now private IPM Consultant Dr. Linda Gilkeson, who lives on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.

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


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