You may think ladybugs are cute and tiny insects, but these bugs are biters who can give you quite some bother, especially if they are starved for food. To know more, read on.
In some cultures, people believe that spotting a ladybug is a sign of good fortune and luck.
This is why people in different parts of the world consider them to be friendly insects.
But don’t let the attractive looks fool you.
Some of these ladybugs can cause major problems for humans by biting, transferring allergies, harming pets, and more.
Therefore it is important to understand these insects better.
In this article, we will look closely at these insects and figure out their dangerous side. Time to put on the reading glasses!
Can Ladybugs Bite?
There are around 5,000 species in the ladybug family scattered across the world. Only 24 of these species are native to the United States.
Some lady beetles were introduced here from Asia to help farmers get rid of pests like aphids that destroy agricultural crops.
These are the notorious Asian Lady Beetles, or ALBs, who have become more of a pest now than a pest controller.
While ladybugs are tiny and brightly colored, they can deliver painful bites to people. They use their biting power to hunt and eat soft-bodied insects.
But they do not hesitate to use it against humans to defend themselves. If they think the human in front of them is a good source of food and moisture, they will dig in.
The female ladybug species are more likely to bite humans than the males because they also have the job of protecting their eggs.
These insects can also pinch the exposed human skin with their legs.
Biting Tendencies By Species
You should know that different ladybug show different biting tendencies; for example, the orange ladybug sting like a bug and are painful to handle.
On the other hand, ladybugs without spots are friendly ladybugs and do not bite at all.
Also, the bigger species of ladybugs, like the ALB (also called the harlequin ladybug), leave a prominent mark through their bites.
Why do They Bite?
Ladybugs usually consume small insects and aphids, so they don’t really have a need to bite humans. However, they might bite us when they are in search of moisture or food.
This generally happens during the winter season when they enter your home to escape the cold air outside.
Since they don’t have any natural food source in the house, they might be forced to take drastic steps.
You should know that these beetles are extreme survivors, and in some instances where there is a shortage of nutrients and food, they even resort to cannibalizing their own siblings to survive.
If these insects can go this far, they probably won’t hesitate to attack the exposed human skin if it looks pink and healthy.
The larger species are more likey to do this during times of need.
Do Ladybugs Have Teeth?
Ladybugs do not have teeth. Instead, they have chewing mouth parts and mandibles that help them to hunt and chew soft-bodied insects and aphids.
Due to this reason, they are excellent for pest control in agricultural crops.
Do They Sting?
Ladybugs can’t sting like wasps and bees as they do not have stingers. They have mandibles and chewing mouthparts that can be used to bite.
For their own defense, they use several mechanisms. One, of course, is aposematism – their bright red color is a warning to predators that they will fight back and may not taste good.
They also play dead and release a foul-smelling liquid when they are threatened.
Are Ladybugs Poisonous?
Although they can bite, ladybugs are not poisonous. However, their bites can trigger an allergic reaction in the human body.
You should also know that the fecal matter of a ladybug can be a source of allergies too.
The orange ladybugs (ALBs) can be very harmful to your pets, as the chemical they secrete can cause burns in the pet’s mouth and stomach.
It can also cause problems like vomiting, nausea, and drowsiness.
Some ladybugs also carry a sexually-transmitted disease called Laboulbeniales fungal disease. Thankfully, this disease only affects insects and other arthropods, not humans.
When Are Ladybug Bites More Frequent?
Ladybug bites are more common during the winter season when they search for a warm place to hibernate.
During this time, the ladybugs gather together to save resources, generate heat, and be ready for the mating season. They are also most likely to enter your homes during this time.
Since you are more likely to encounter them during this season, the chances of getting bitten are also higher at this time.
What to do if Bitten?
Unlike other insects like mosquitos and midges, ladybirds don’t have venom or saliva in their mouths to kill their prey.
Therefore if you get bitten by them, the chances of a bad reaction in the body are quite low.
Since they only eat soft-bodied insects, most ladybugs won’t be able to break past the human skin while biting.
If you end up getting bitten by a ladybug, simply wash the wound carefully with a mixture of soap and water to avoid infections.
In rare cases, these bites can trigger allergic reactions in the body. So if you happen to notice swelling and breathing problems, immediately rush to the nearest medical facility.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do ladybugs carry STD?
Yes, certain species of ladybugs can be the carriers of a sexually-transmitted disease known as the Laboulbeniales fungal disease.
Fortunately, the Laboulbeniales fungal disease only affects insects, centipedes, and other arthropods. Therefore even if you are bitten by a ladybug, this STD won’t cause any harm to you.
What color are poisonous ladybugs?
The orange-tinted ladybugs, also known as the Asian ladybeetles, usually have a higher number of toxins in their bodies.
These beetles are capable of causing allergic problems. Also, they are dangerous for pets as they secrete a yellowish, acidic liquid when attacked.
If a pet were to consume them, this liquid could cause chemical burns in the mouth and trigger problems like vomiting, drowsiness, and loss of appetite.
What to do if a ladybug lands on you?
Some people believe that there is a spiritual meaning to a ladybug landing on you. If a ladybug lands on you, then you are very lucky.
Some also believe that the landing of a ladybug will bring fortune to the person.
Keeping spiritual beliefs aside, if a ladybug lands on you, do not threaten it, as it will emit a smelly yellow liquid on your body which might cause a stain on your clothes.
Are ladybugs friendly to humans?
Ladybugs are mostly known to be friendly and beneficial insects, but when there is a shortage of food and water, these insects can turn into attackers.
In such cases, they will become aggressive and bite humans to obtain nutrients. Also, they are capable of causing allergic reactions in the human body.
You can’t possibly imagine the tiny and cute-looking ladybirds to be a problem-causing pest. But in reality, they may cause a lot of problems for humans and pets, especially during winter.
This is why you must use the information given in this article to deal with them smartly. Thank you for reading the article.
Ladybug bites are not as uncommon as you might think. Many of our readers have reported being bitten by these otherwise friendly insects over the years.
While some of these were true ladybugs, others were about Asian Lady Beetles and other lookalikes. Read on to know how painful their bites are, as reported by our readers.
Letter 1 – LeConte’s Giant Lady Beetle
Subject: a ladybug beetle with no spots Geographic location of the bug: Southern New Mexico forest 7000 ft. Date: 09/10/2017 Time: 04:30 AM EDT It’s bigger than a ladybug but it looks like a ladybug beetle with no spots. What is it? How you want your letter signed: Mary Ray Dear Mary Ray, This is indeed a Lady Beetle. We initially located it on the Texas Entomology site where it is identified as the Giant Lady, Anatis lecontei, and we crosschecked that name on BugGuide where it is called LeConte’s Giant Lady Beetle or the Large Orange Lady Bug. According to BugGuide: “One of the largest lady beetles in North America” and “Type locality: Fort Wingate, New Mexico.” OMG!! this makes me so happy to know! Thank you Daniel so much!!! Mary
Letter 2 – Mating Wave Striped Lady Beetles from Oman
Subject: Ladybeetle in Oman Location: Wadi Shab, Oman (22°49’48.3″N 59°13’30.5″E) March 4, 2016 11:00 am Dear Daniel. You have already helped me almost a year ago with 2 namibian insects, hope you can help me with this one. I saw this Ladybeetle at my vacation in Oman and unfortunately, until now I was not able to identify these two mating beetles in the internet. I scrolled through your site, could not find it eather. Do you have any idea? I saw them at the canyon “Wadi Shab”, near a small river at 5pm. Their size was “normal”, I mean, a size you would expect with ladybeetles. Btw, it was the first ladybeetle I have seen without spots, it`s sort of banded. Hope you can help me 🙂 Thanks a lot in advance Daniel. Bye, Signature: Becky from Munich-Germany Dear Becky, There is not a very comprehensive insect archive from Oman available on the internet, but we did locate a page on Lady Beetles from the family Coccinellidae on Israel’s Nature Site, but alas, your species is not pictured. We will continue to try to identify your mating Lady Beetles. Update: March 6, 2016 While attempting to identify this Mealy Bug or Scale Insect from India, we stumbled upon this image of a Lady Beetle from India on Wikipedia that matches the pair submitted for this posting. Though it is not identified, we are invigorated to continue our search by expanding to Coccinellidae from India. Birds of Malwa refers to it by the common name Indian Wave Striped Ladybug, but no scientific name is provided. Continued searching led us to pBase and the name Menochilus sexmaculatus. We verified that identity and they synonym Cheilomenes sexmaculata (Fabricius, 1781) on Meloidae.com and on MalaysianLadyBirds. Dear Daniel. Wow, you guys really are incredible!! :-)) Thank you very much for identifying my Omani ladybeetles! Bye, Becky
Letter 3 – Polished Lady Beetle
Subject: Thought it was ladybug… but don’t think so Location: Manhattan, NYC July 28, 2017 4:16 pm Just found this but in my bathroom and would like to know what it is!!!! (please). I live in Manhattan. It’s super hot today. I thought it was a ladybug at first but on closer inspection I don’t think it is… Signature: Concerned Dear Concerned, The lack of spots and the white pattern on the pronotum lead us to believe this is a Polished Lady Beetle, Cycloneda munda, a species pictured on BugGuide where it is also called a Red Lady Beetle, Immaculate Lady Beetle, No-Spotted Lady Beetle or Spotless Lady Beetle.
Letter 4 – Striped Ladybird Beetle Aggregation and Cohabitation with Cucumber Beetles
Can you help ID?
Looks like a leaf beetle but I can’t find out what kind in any of the books I have. This is a photo of just a few of them. We want to do some organic farming near by but hopefully not plant what they want to eat. What are they? What do they eat? They are in northern California (near Petaluma) in the many many thousands. Why are they meeting along a flooding ditch in the winter? Thanks for your help!
We don’t recognize your beetle, which we believe is either a Chrysomelid, a Leaf Beetle or our suspicion, a Coccinellid, one of the Ladybird Beetles. We are waiting for a response from Eric Eaton.
Eric Eaton’s Response: ” Believe it or not, those ARE lady beetles. More specifically, the striped lady beetle, Ceratomegilla vittigera (this is what I suspect to be an old name, and one would have to look for the more current synonym). I was not aware that this was a species that formed aggregations. We would love to add this species, and these images, to Bugguide (hint, hint). Eric ” Certain species of Ladybird Beetles form aggregations during the winter months in preparation for hibernation. We are requesting your permission to post this to BugGuide if you don’t mind. Eric later added this: ” Proper name for the striped lady beetle is Paranaemia vittigera. Apparently aggegations are not uncommon. I just didn’t know that. Eric “
It is fine to use the photo’s as you see fit. I have attached a close up and another group shot to help confirm the ID. Also one photo of the bad (from a gardener’s viewpoint) company the keep – diabrotica beetles. I sure hope they are ladybird’s.
Hi again Pete,
Thank you for the additional photos. The cohabitation photo with the Spotted Cucumber Beetle, though blurry, is very interesting. We will post to BugGuide as well.
Letter 5 – Three Banded Lady Beetle
three-banded lady beetle
Hi. We live in the Ottawa, ON. area and have noticed that the majority of the lady beetles we see are of the Asian variety, so it was really nice to come across this three-banded lady beetle. Love your site…take care!
Thank you for sending in your photo of a Three Banded Lady Beetle, Coccinella trifasciata.