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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Rice > County Agriculture Educator > Articles > Addressing myths about Multicolored Asian lady beetles in Minnesota

Addressing myths about Multicolored Asian lady beetles in Minnesota

Our houses become sanctuary for several critters as the weather cools. An especially infamous home invader is the Multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis. Despite being beneficial to our crop fields and gardens, we often think of them as pests due to their presence inside our homes. They can be a nuisance, but there are several myths about these buggers which earn them more disdain than they deserve.

Myth #1: They were purposely released in Minnesota to control soybean aphids.
Multicolored Asian lady beetles are not and never have been part of any release program in Minnesota. These beetles are native to eastern Asia, and were intentionally released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in California in 1916 for biological control of pecan aphids. They were also released for additional biological control programs in other states. They moved into the state from other areas, first sighted in Minnesota in 1994.

Myth #2: Native lady beetles don’t bite, Asian lady beetles do.
This is basically true. Some Asian lady beetles can bite hard enough to break human skin, causing minor discomfort. Most Minnesota-native lady beetle species cannot bite hard enough to break skin. Any bites that do occur are incidental, as the beetles are likely just searching for moisture or food.

Myth #3: Native lady beetles are red, Asian lady beetles are orange. Also, the color or spot pattern denotes whether it is male or female.
Multicolored Asian lady beetles can be orange or red. They look similar to other lady beetles but are generally rounder and larger. Their appearance is variable; they can be orange, yellow, red, or black. Asian lady beetles typically have 19 black spots on their wing covers which can vary in appearance. They may also have fewer than 19 spots or no spots at all. The most reliable identifying characteristic is the black 'M'-shaped marking behind the head. This 'M' can look thick, thin, or broken. Multicolored Asian lady beetles are extremely variable in their colors and patterns, living up to the “multicolored” part of their name. You cannot determine the sex of a lady beetle by its coloring or spots.

Myth #4: There is an overabundance of lady beetles in Minnesota.
We see the non-native, invasive Multicolored Asian lady beetles and may think we have plenty. However, some native ladybugs have become extremely rare. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and The Lost Ladybug Project are attempting to monitor rare species.

Myth #5: Lady beetles lay eggs in our homes.
Lady beetles usually enter cracks or gaps in our homes between late September and late October in Minnesota, when soybeans are harvested. They do not reproduce indoors, because they lay eggs where their young will have a food source, which is outside in the spring. Any lady beetle seen inside during winter and spring entered the previous fall.

Lady beetles play a role in our ecosystem, even if we don’t love sharing our homes with them. Contact Claire LaCanne for suggestions regarding prevention or removal.

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