During the last century in America, agricultural officials imported more than 180 non-native ladybug species into the United States from Asia. This was done after researchers determined that Asian ladybug species naturally prey upon numerous crop pests within the US. In order to prevent further crop-loss on account of insect pests, officials released staggering amounts of non-native ladybugs over US crops. This biological pest control method worked, as the non-native ladybugs massacred nearly all the native insect pests that had been destroying crops. However, one of these 180 exotic ladybug species established an invasive habitat in the southern US, and it did not take long before it spread to nearly all states within the country. This exotic ladybug is commonly referred to as the “Asian lady beetle”, and they are particularly annoying to homeowners in the northeast states during the spring, summer and fall seasons.
During the spring and fall, Asian lady beetles swarm into homes and sometimes bite humans. The most significant indoor infestations occur during the fall, as the ladybugs must secure warm shelter in order to survive the cold of winter. Due to their habit of infesting wall-voids, attics and other enclosed indoor areas, eradicating these pests from a home can be challenging. However, the Asian lady beetle may be more than just an annoying insect pest, as many occupants of highly infested homes have experienced unpleasant medical symptoms in response to the smelly fluid that these bugs secrete from their bodies.
House-dust mites and pet dander are both well-known indoor allergens, but few know that several cockroach pest species also serve as allergens within indoor environments. As it happens, the invasive Asian lady beetle also triggers allergy symptoms in humans, but this information has yet to become common knowledge. Several medical studies have confirmed that the smelly defense-chemical excreted by Asian lady beetles also contributes to the development of allergies. Individuals are unlikely to develop “ladybug-specific hypersensitivity” unless they become exposed to an infestation, and in many cases, those who developed the condition never experienced significant allergy symptoms before. Those who are sensitive to Asian lady beetle secretions may develop rhinitis, facial swelling, pink eye, skin rash and asthma in response to Asian lady beetle infestations. Researchers have found that up to 10 percent of the American population may have a sensitivity to Asian lady beetle secretions.
Were you aware that certain household insect pest species can induce allergic conditions in some people?