The group of insects known as “ladybugs,” “lady beetles,” or “ladybird beetles,” are comprised of several species that frequently find their way into homes during the fall, often in large numbers. Ladybugs are widely considered one of the more aesthetically pleasing insect groups, but a non-native species known as the “asian lady beetle,” is a serious nuisance pest in homes despite their similar appearance to native ladybugs. Asian lady beetles are largely considered the only ladybugs in the US that are pests within homes, but many native species invade homes as well. With the exception of asian lady beetle infestations during the fall, the two most commonly encountered ladybug species in Massachusetts homes are usually referred to as “seven spotted lady beetles,” and “convergent lady beetles.”
Just as its common name makes clear, the seven spotted lady beetle has three spots on each wing, as well as one in the middle, and their wing color varies from pink to deep red. This species grows to ⅜ of an inch in body length, making the seven spotted lady beetle a bit larger in size than most other ladybugs. Like all ladybugs, the seven spotted lady beetle is considered beneficial in gardens due to their habit of preying on destructive insect pests that damage valued plants. Occasionally, these ladybugs appear in homes, and they sometimes establish infestations, but this is rare, as they overwinter naturally in hedges, leaf litter and on the ground at the base of plants.
The convergent lady beetle can have as many as 13 spots or no spots at all, and their colors vary from yellowish-orange to deep red. They are around ¼ of an inch in length and they can be recognized by the white lines that converge behind their head. Convergent lady beetles are commonly sold to consumers for insect pest control in gardens, but this method is largely ineffective due to their habit of migrating out of home gardens. Similar to convergent lady beetles, Asian lady beetles were imported to the US from Asia to be used for pest control in commercial crops many decades ago. Unfortunately, this species has migrated into urban and suburban areas where it invades homes in massive numbers and hides within inaccessible indoor locations, like wall voids and beneath flooring. These non-native ladybugs can have numerous spots or no spots, and their body color ranges from yellowish-brown to red. Asian lady beetles have a distinct design behind their heads that resembles the letter “M,” and they are around ⅓ of an inch in body length.
Do you find ladybugs in your home throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons?