What to know about the ladybugs invading your house

They are commonly seen as omens of good luck, but during this season, homeowners may not feel so lucky to have their houses invaded by ladybugs. 

From identifying the critters crawling on the windowsill to finding out how to safely remove them from houses, here’s what you need to know about ladybugs this season. 

How can I spot a ladybug?

According to garden coach, consultant and writer of gardening newsletter The Weekly Dirt, Jessica Damiano, there are several species of “ladybird beetles” that are commonly referred to as “ladybugs.” However, there are notable differences between species.

“Our most common native ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens) are orange with 12 black dots on their domed backs,” she said in an email. “They do not bite or swarm inside homes (they spend winters outside). You'll recognize them by the presence of two white lines that converge behind their heads.”

There are also Asian lady beetles (or Asian ladybugs), Damiano noted, which can have varying amounts of spots — though the most common spot count is seven — and range in color from orange, to yellow, tan or red. Damiano said that the Asian ladybug has different markings, including an “M-shaped marking under their heads” as well as “larger white markings on their ‘cheeks.’

Why are ladybugs all over my house?

According to Damiano, it might not be native ladybugs that are swarming the insides of houses. Instead, the bugs might be Asian lady beetles, and when the weather starts to cool down, the bugs seek warmth. 

“Around this time every year, Asian ladybugs (Harmonia axyridis) can be seen sunbathing in swarms on exterior walls on warm autumn days and inside homes when the weather cools as they look for a safe spot to hibernate,” she said. “Those ladybugs are attracted to large, white structures and those with vertical lines or stripes because in their native habitat, they overwinter under white stone cliffs. That's bad news if you happen to live in a white house.”

Are there more ladybugs this year than in previous years?

While swarming rates vary from year to year, Damiano noted that the ladybug population is indicative of the summer’s aphid population, especially in rural areas and near soybean fields. Thus, if there are more aphids around this year, then that means there will likely be more ladybugs present to consume them. 

How do I safely get rid of ladybugs from my home?

If Asian lady beetles are found indoors, Damiano recommends vacuuming the bugs and placing the vacuum contents in the trash outside. This helps to prevent more from finding their way inside, she noted. 

“Once they've attained entry, they release pheromones that summon more to enter, so drop everything and do this as soon as you notice their presence,” Damiano said. 

Additionally, sealing gaps, cracks and any openings around windows, doors and air conditioning units can help reduce ladybugs’ entry, Damiano said, as well as replacing window screens with holes in them. 

According to This Old House, additional steps to contain swarms of ladybugs in houses include using dish soap to limit the bugs’ mobility, as well as natural repellents, LED light traps or even duct tape to catch the bugs. Planting mums outside — or keeping them in pots inside — can also deter ladybugs, This Old House notes, since the smell the flowers emit is off-putting to the bugs.  

What do ladybugs eat?

Damiano noted that ladybugs tend to eat a type of insect called “aphids.” According to Prevention, aphids are tiny, sap-sucking insects, and in a ladybug’s lifetime, they can consume as many as 5,000 of them. 

Do ladybugs bite?

Asian lady beetles tend to have different behaviors that distinguish them from native ladybugs, including the ability to bite. 

“They will scrape your skin if they land on you or if you pick them up so you might think they've bitten you,” she said. “And when they feel threatened they release a yellow liquid that will stain your skin and clothing.”

How long do ladybugs live?

According to This Old House, ladybugs have an average of a one-year lifespan. In that time, however, the home improvement site notes they will lay thousands of eggs and quickly multiply. 

Are ladybugs good luck?

While there is much folklore about a ladybug bringing good luck if it lands on someone (and conversely, bad luck if the insect is killed), its ability to bring about luck might be only a superstition.

According to the South Carolina Aquarium, the legend of the ladybug as a good omen likely originated with farmers. Since the bugs and its larvae feast on “soft-bodied problem insects that plague crops and gardens,” they tend to leave good plants and bugs alone, which was beneficial to farmers’ crops. 

As for whether or not the bugs themselves carry luck to those they land on, pest control company Pest Rangers said there is no basis behind the superstitions. In fact, the very characteristics of ladybugs that have been said to carry luck — such as its spots or its color — indicate survival adaptations or that it is an Asian lady beetle instead of a ladybug.