Multi-colored Asian lady beetle getting warmed up

Published 3:24 pm Monday, March 22, 2010

The Asian lady beetle was native to Asia but imported to North America in attempts to control sucking insect pests. The first populations were found in this country in New Orleans until 1988.

It has now become common throughout the United States and Alabama.

What is the difference in appearance between ladybugs and Asian lady beetles?

To start, I want to point out the ladybug is often considered scientifically to be slang for the correct name lady beetle. Other popular names include ladybird and ladybird beetle. There are about 400 different species of lady beetles (ladybugs) in North America.

Therefore, the Asian lady beetle is one of the ladybugs.

The color of their wing covers range from pumpkin-orange to mustard-yellow and even jet-black. They may have no black spots or as many as 20 of the ebony polka dots.

However, you can distinguish the multi-colored Asian lady beetle from others by a single unique characteristic: multi-colored lady beetle has a distinguishing “W” or “M” shaped mark on their thorax depending upon whether you are looking at it from the front or rear while viewing the beetle from its topside. The thorax is the section that separates the head from the abdomen (where the wing covers start). All multi-colored Asian lady beetles have this mark that domestic ladybugs lack.

What should you do with multi-colored Asian lady beetles?

They are beneficial insects for controlling aphids, scale and other soft-bodied insects in trees, fields and gardens in plant growing seasons. They can cause an accidental nuisance, invading households during the fall and winter. They may leave a slimy smear and stain on walls and window frames.

As homeowners, you want to keep them out in fall and winter.

Caulking exterior cracks and crevices, before the lady beetles seek over-wintering sites, is the best way to keep them out. This will also keep out other unwanted insects and will save homeowners money on energy costs.

Sweeping and vacuuming are effective methods for removing these lady beetles from living areas and release them outdoors. Using insecticides indoors for control of the lady beetles is not recommended.