Ladybugs vs Asian Lady Beetles & Understanding Their Impact on Trees

October 28, 2023

Ladybugs and Asian lady beetles are often mistaken for one another. While they may share a similar appearance, they belong to distinct species with unique characteristics. In this blog, we’ll explore the key differences between these two fascinating insects and shed light on why it’s crucial to differentiate between them.

Ladybugs, scientifically known as Coccinellidae, are small beetles with round or oval-shaped bodies, typically ranging from 0.03 to 0.39 inches (0.8 to 10 mm) in size. They come in a variety of colors, including red, orange, yellow, or even black, and are adorned with distinctive black spots. Ladybugs are native to our area and are beneficial to our ecosystem.

Asian lady beetles, on the other hand, are a slightly larger species known as Harmonia axyridis. They share a similar shape with ladybugs but are typically more oval. Their coloration can vary from pale yellow to deep red, and they often have multiple spots, ranging from none to as many as 19. Asian lady beetles are not native to our area and are extremely invasive. Although they to provide some benefits, they also cause infestation problems.

Some differences

One of the most significant distinctions between these two insects is their behavior towards humans. Ladybugs are docile and rarely bite humans. They are generally considered harmless and even beneficial due to their pest-controlling nature.

In contrast, Asian lady beetles have been known to exhibit more aggressive behavior. While they don’t intentionally bite, they may pinch if they feel threatened or cornered. Moreover, they can secrete a yellowish substance with a slightly unpleasant odor, which some people find irksome. Another distiction are their wintering habits. During the winter months, both ladybugs and Asian lady beetles seek shelter to hibernate. Ladybugs tend to overwinter in natural environments such as leaf litter, tall grasses, and tree bark. Asian lady beetles, however, have a penchant for seeking refuge in man-made structures like homes and buildings, which can lead to occasional infestations.

So what are their effects on trees?

Ladybugs, by primarily targeting aphids, play a crucial role in protecting trees from these destructive pests. By reducing aphid populations, they help prevent the stunting of new growth, yellowing leaves, and other forms of damage caused by aphid infestations. Asian lady beetles, while still beneficial in pest control, have a broader diet that includes fruits and plants. In some cases, they may feed on the sap of trees, potentially causing minor damage. However, this behavior is typically not a cause for significant concern for healthy, established trees.

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