Asian beetles in dogs

Pet owners need to be on the look-out for a hidden threat that can seriously hurt their dogs. A graphic photo of a dog’s mouth covered with Asian lady beetles went viral after Hoisington Veterinary Hospital in Kansas warned about the harmful effects.

“This is the second pup I have seen like this today,” veterinarian Dr. Lindsay Mitchell wrote on Facebook. “If your pet is drooling or foaming at the mouth, look for these ladybugs. They cause ulcers on the tongue and mouth and have a very painful bite.”

Owner Frances Jiriks first noticed something was wrong with her dog Bailey when he refused to eat, KAKE reports. He was also foaming at the mouth and lethargic, so Jiriks brought him into the clinic. That’s when Mitchell found 30 to 40 insects lodged on the roof of Bailey’s mouth.

Unfortunately, Bailey wasn’t the only pet to suffer from this uncommon but painful affliction. Mitchell’s warning also helped catch at least one more case. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this,” a commenter wrote on Facebook. “I noticed my son’s little dog had not eaten his food from yesterday. I went on to finish chores, then turned around to check his mouth. He had just a little foam around the mouth. When I opened his mouth it was covered worse than this photo.”

The source of all these Asian lady beetles, also called harlequin lady beetles, can be attributed to an uptick in the local aphid population. “With a lot of aphids, they produced a lot of ladybugs to be able to attack and eat and control the aphids,” Barton County Extension Agent Alicia Boor told KWCH.

Luckily, if you find any ladybugs in your own pet’s mouth, it’s easy to help your dog without an expensive trip to the vet. “You just remove them with anything you can safely,” Hoisington Veterinary Hospital wrote on Facebook. “If your pet lets you, you can use your fingers. Or if she tries to bite you may be able to remove them with a spoon or tongue depressor.”

[h/t KAKE

Caroline Picard Health Editor Caroline is the Health Editor at covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news.

Viral Photo: Beetles in Dog’s Mouth

Viral Photo: Beetles in Dog’s Mouth waffles November 20, 2015

A photo heavily circulating online shows beetles attached to the roof of a dog’s mouth. A warning is included to check your dog’s mouth for similar infestation.

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Beetles in Dog’s Mouth

A popular Facebook post amassed over 160,000 shares in its first two days. It includes a photo of a dog’s mouth with several insects attached to top, along with a warning which states:

SOMEBODY ASKED ME TO PASS THIS ALONG …. Japanese Beetles and Lady Bugs can attach to the roof of your dog’s mouth, and make him/HER become ill. Symptoms include excessive drooling. Check your dog’s mouth and remove any insects. #thatsnasty

It does appear that Asian Beetles (also known as Asian Lady Beetles) can be embedded in the roof of a dog’s as described above, although the occurrence appears to be quite rare, and it does not seem to occur with common Lady Bugs.

A Facebook page under the name of Hands & Paws sought to reassure worried pet owners about a potential invasion of Asian Beetles.

Asian Beetles (some people call them Japanese Beetles as well) can embed themselves like this in the roof of your dog’s mouth if ingested by dog. Be aware of what your dog is randomly eating while outside. These beetles (which look a lot like lady bugs) can be on sticks, leaves, etc. Symptoms are constant drooling for no apparent reason, and sudden horrid breath.
Insects were removed and this pup is doing fine!

A 2008 PubMed citation also discusses a situation similar to that described above.

A six-year old mixed-breed dog presented with severe trauma to the oral mucosa suggestive of chemical burn. Sixteen Harmonia axyridis (Coccinellidae) were removed from the oral cavity, which revealed trauma consistent with chemical burn. The beetles had become embedded in mucosa covering the hard palate and required manual removal. A diagnosis of beetle induced chemical burn was warranted and consistent with the nature of the chemical constituents of H. axyridis hemolymph.

Bottom Line

Although the photo above appears to be real, and there have been other cases which closely match what is depicted in the photo, the occurrence of such incidents appears to be quite rare. The warning appears to be accurate regarding Asian Beetles, but not Lady Bugs as one popular caption describes.

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Vet Opens Dog’s Drooling Mouth To Reveal A Strange Ladybug Infestation

Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Last year, a photo on the internet caused a considerable amount of shock, especially among dog owners.


The disturbing image shows the inside of a dog’s mouth, where it appears that ladybugs — the cute, shiny little beetles known for eating aphids — embedded into the roof of its mouth. It was like something out of a horror movie, especially when you consider how cute you thought ladybugs were!

The photo claimed to be from a veterinarian’s office, where a dog came in needing the insects removed. What’s more, the insects seemed to have secreted some kind of chemical, leaving burns on the roof of the dog’s mouth.


But then the skeptics came out. They claimed the photo is fake, that someone was just messing with the internet to cause a stir. After all, who had ever seen something like this? A chemical burn from a ladybug? Ladybugs in a dog’s mouth?

Even with those qualms, though, plenty of people were worried. After all, the thought of a dog getting injured by something so unexpected would rattle any dog parent.

So just like people scrutinized their Christmas ornaments to make sure they were safe, they did some digging to get to the bottom of the strange, icky photo.

The conclusion? Well, it was a little more complicated than the photo being just real or fake. Because isn’t that just how life always is?

Please note that the images below may be disturbing to some, so we’ve blurred them. Click to see the image at your own discretion.

Vet Opens Dog’s Mouth And Finds An Incredibly Bizarre Insect Infestation

When you’re a dog owner, there are any number of weird occurrences and potential problems you have to keep an eye out for. Some are common issues, like flea and tick infestations, but others are so rare it’s hard to believe that they’re actually a real problem.

When a picture began circulating online, many were convinced it was fake. It appeared to show a dog with a ladybug infestation in its mouth. Shockingly, vets confirmed the issue was rare, but all too real for comfort.

Recently, a photo made the rounds online claiming to show ladybugs that attached themselves to the roof of a dog’s mouth. It was accompanied by a caption that claimed both ladybugs and Japanese beetles could do this, and such an infestation could make dogs sick.


Many were quick to dismiss the photograph as a fake, but after consulting with veterinarians, one website concluded that the picture was real, and that ladybug infestations are a rare but potentially dangerous problem.


One veterinarian in Hoisington, Kansas posted on Facebook that he had two such cases recently and warned that even though a ladybug infestation isn’t common, all dog owners should be on the lookout for signs like excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth.

Facebook / Hoisington Veterinary Clinic

The lady bugs are fairly easy to remove, and if your dog has them, they can be scraped away with a spoon or tongue depressor (assuming you can get your pup to cooperate.) If you have trouble removing them yourself, you can always visit a vet to make sure they’re gone for good.

Facebook / Hoisington Veterinary Clinic

The main culprit in these infestations is the Harmonia axyridis, also known as the Asian ladybeetle. These little bugs secret a liquid called hemolymph with burns into the roof of a dog’s mouth and helps the bugs stay attached.

Wikimedia Commons / spacebirdy

The primary danger is that the spots where the bugs attach themselves can become open, ulcer-like sores which run the risk of becoming infected. The resulting infections are usually far more serious than presence of the bugs themselves.

Wikimedia Commons / Gilles San Martin

Vets say there’s no need to target ladybugs in your lawn or garden with pesticides because most of the time they won’t cause an issue. Simply being a diligent pet owner and looking out for signs of anything unusual should keep your pooch safe from this odd infestation!

Flickr / Sarah Ackerman

What a strange thing to happen! It would certainly be alarming to realize your dog has a mouthful of ladybugs and have no clue how they got there or what to do about it.

A picture of Asian lady beetles embedded inside a dog’s mouth is circulating social media, but don’t let this picture worry you.

Over the past few days, many Facebook users may have come across an image that appears to show ladybugs embedded inside the roof of a dog’s mouth.

The wording of the original post by the Hands & Paws Facebook page made many dog owners nervous.

Japanese Beetles can and will imbed (sic) themselves like this in the roof of your dog’s mouth. Symptoms are constant drooling for no apparent reason. Lady Bugs can also do the same thing.
The more you know…

The disturbing picture was shared over 34,000 times and caused concern for many dog lovers.

When the American Veterinary Medical Association saw the post, they decided to clear some things up.

This is going around on Facebook and causing a bit of panic, so here’s the real scoop: there are invasive Asian ladybugs that can cause problems, but our “regular” ladybugs DO NOT. So there’s no need to panic and pry open your dog’s mouth to look for zombie ladybugs.

The image reportedly came from an incident in which 16 multicolored Asian lady beetles, not the normal ladybug, became embedded inside the dog’s mouth.

The Hands & Paws Facebook page later changed the wording of their post to clear up any confusion they may have caused.

Asian Beetles (some people call them Japanese Beetles as well) can embed themselves like this in the roof of your dog’s mouth if ingested by dog. Be aware of what your dog is randomly eating while outside. These beetles( which look a lot like lady bugs) can be on sticks, leaves, etc. Symptoms are constant drooling for no apparent reason, and sudden horrid breath.
Insects were removed and this pup is doing fine!

Beetle-mania. Beetles are the largest group in the Animal Kingdom, representing about a fourth of all animals. Currently, more than 350,000 beetle species have been identified. Yet scientists who study beetles (coleopterists) are certain there are thousands more that have not been discovered yet!

You may be familiar with some of the many different beetle species by their common names: ladybugs, June bugs, weevils, lightning bugs or fireflies, borers, and potato bugs. No other animal group has such a range of color, shape, and size. Some beetle species are as large as your fist; others are so small they can fit through the eye of a needle. Many species are brilliantly colored, like jewels, while others cleverly blend into their environment. No matter what shape, size, or color, it is safe to say that beetles are the most successful group of animals ever known!

Beetle body parts. The body of the beetle consists of three main segments: head, thorax, and abdomen.

Head— The head is where the beetle’s eyes, mouth, brain, and antennae are found. Some horned beetles have extensions on their head that remind scientists of horns or antlers.

Thorax— The thorax is the powerhouse of the beetle body, divided into three parts. The beetle’s six legs and its wings are attached to these parts. Thick, hardened front wings, called elytra, cover most of the beetle’s body and its back wings offer great protection. Some species are able to trap moisture under their wings, helping them survive in deserts where water is scarce. Other species can live underwater because they are able to trap air under the elytra.

Abdomen— The abdomen contains the organs for digestion and reproduction. A tough exoskeleton and the elytra protect the beetle’s soft membranes and keep the beetle from drying out or getting waterlogged.

Flexible, long antennae on the beetle’s head act like feelers to help the beetle find food, a mate, and places to lay eggs. They also alert the beetle to vibrations in the air that could mean a predator is near. A beetle uses its legs to regularly clean those important antennae. Tiny hairs on its body and legs, called setae, are sensitive to touch, sound, smell, taste, and light.

Most beetles have compound eyes (eyes that are divided into many six-sided compartments). Compound eyes are very sensitive to movement and can probably see in color. Beetles that rely on vision for hunting (ground beetles) or breeding (fireflies, Lampyridae family) have larger eyes. Whirligig beetles (Gyrinidae family), which swim on the surface of ponds, have divided eyes: one half for vision under water, the other for seeing above the water so they can find food that drops in or floats by.

Sunburst diving beetles carry a bubble on their rear end that pulls oxygen from the water and helps the beetle stay under just a little longer.

Most beetles can fly, although they do so in a slow, clumsy manner. Water beetles are good swimmers, and many can fly as well. Some beetle species that live in deserts have lost the ability to fly.

All beetles have jointed legs, but leg shape and size varies, depending on the beetle’s lifestyle. For example, long and slender legs are made for speed (ground beetles, Carabidae family); broad and ridged legs are for digging (dung beetles, Scarabaeidae family); legs curved and shaped like a paddle are for swimming (water beetles, Hydrophilidae family); and large hind legs are for hopping (flea beetles, Chrysomelidae family). Some species even have a sticky pad on the bottom of each foot to help them walk up slippery surfaces. All species have a pair of claws on each foot. Many beetles need the sun to warm their bodies before they can run or fly quickly.

Stay safe! Beetles have a lot of different ways to protect themselves from becoming someone else’s lunch. The hard, shiny elytra is often enough to keep a beetle safe from other insects, or other beetles! Dome-shaped leaf beetles (Coccinelidae family) and ladybird beetles (Chrysomelidae family) pull their legs and antennae under this “shell,” just like a turtle does. Some ladybird beetles release sticky yellow blood from their legs to gum up the antennae and mouthparts of the attacker.

Flightless ground beetles squirt out jets of formic acid, which burns the skin and causes eye damage. Leaf beetle larvae are so poisonous that people of the Kalahari Desert use them to tip their hunting arrows. Brightly colored or patterned beetles usually taste very bad to predators. And camouflage works great for beetles living under rocks or bark, or in the soil.

Do bug-eating cats bite off more than they can chew?

Most cats like to hunt and eat insects that wander across their path. With a few exceptions, you shouldn’t let your cat’s love of the creepy crawly critters bug you!

Q: My cat likes to catch and eat bugs. Can they make her sick?

A: Cats do love to stalk bugs. Anything that flies, hops or crawls — flies, moths, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders — catches their attention and activates their hunting instincts. According to feline nutrition expert Deborah Greco, DVM, insects make up a third of the diet of small wildcats and are popular with domestic cats as well.

We can see how you might be concerned, though. Bugs are popular snack items in some cultures, but for many of us, it’s hard to overcome the ick factor. As far as whether bugs can make your cat sick, the answer is: It depends.

In most cases, crunching a few bugs isn’t going to do your cat any harm. Think of them as the feline equivalent of potato chips. As always, however, there can be exceptions.

Stink bugs, for instance, may exude a nasty-tasting liquid when bitten. (We know this because humans have reported accidentally biting into them.) It’s not necessarily poisonous, but it can cause drooling or vomiting or irritate your cat’s digestive tract.

If spiders such as black widows or brown recluses bite back, their venom can cause serious illness or death. Bees or wasps may sting the mouth. Seemingly harmless ladybugs (Asian lady beetles) can cause chemical burns in a pet’s mouth or digestive tract. Lightning bugs, also known as fireflies, produce chemicals that give them a bitter taste and may cause your cat digestive upset. Certain caterpillars are highly toxic or are protected by painful spines or stinging hairs. As with plants, the most colorful insects are most likely to be toxic.

Bugs can carry parasites. Cats can get stomach worms from eating beetles, cockroaches and crickets. That’s one good reason to give your cat a parasite preventive year-round. And if bugs have been poisoned by insecticides and are then eaten in large numbers by your cat, he could become sick.

Otherwise, just think of insects as an additional source of protein for your little carnivore.

All this and more in this week’s Pet Connection!

The Truth About This Viral Photo Of A Dog Infested With Ladybugs

There’s been a photo knocking around on social media sites appearing to show a dog’s mouth with a nasty infestation of ladybugs.

Though shared by caring dog lovers with good intentions, it’s likely the photo is probably causing more concern than it needs to.

First of all, the bugs are actually Asian lady beetles, not the ladybugs you’re likely to find in your garden. Although bulkier than your friendly neighborhood ladybugs, they’re not parasites – the dog doesn’t want them in there and they don’t want to be in there either.

As The Dodo reported, there’s only been one recorded case of a dog ingesting Asian lady beetles and getting ill. In that case, the dog ate 16 of the insects, which then reportedly began secreting mucus as part of their natural defense mechanism, which caused “acute corrosion” to the dog’s mouth.

If your dog did accidentally eat one of these Asian lady beetles, it could cause the dog to exhibit symptoms like excessive drooling and drowsiness. However, the chance that a bunch of Asian lady beetles find themselves in a dog’s mouth is pretty slim.

In this dog’s case, it’s likely that he simply had a munch on some beetles and they got caught in his mouth. No need to be alarmed.

This is going around on Facebook and causing a bit of panic, so here’s the real scoop: there are invasive Asian ladybugs…

Posted by American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on Friday, 20 November 2015

Are Ladybugs Poisonous to Dogs or Toxic

I live in Oregon. I am having difficulty finding anyone, let alone vets, to entertain my analogy of what maybe happening to my Chihuahua’s. I’ve had animals my entire life, being raised on a farm and all.
I am very connected to my dogs. I believe I may have lost one Chihuahua to what is explained regarding the toxic/poisonous Asian ladybird or lady beetle and I have two others trying to weather the bug.
I cannot seem to get the vets to look outside of the regular box. Evening providing specimen and photo’s. I’ve been to multiple emergency vets since July of this year. When I suggest what I am seeing and show them I get a generic answer to what it is and I am not buying it. It absolutely know something is happening to my babies and why I think this may be related:
1. a film is left behind as a slug leaves (for lack of example)
2. I’ve thought there maybe 3 components and after looking at the life cycle what I’m collecting in bedding ect. Very, very interesting they play dead!!! Very, very interesting a hair is associated w/it and various colors and shapes. I have pixs on my fingers w/my hand totally reaching: swelling and red and shinny.
3. Black/dark brown things in my kids mouth (dogs). I even had dentals done thinking their eating manners that were not normal since raising them, would help. Actually, I beleive it is worse and neither had to have any teeth pulled. ( meaning I really take excellent care of my animals). Preventative actions always. K9 Advantx II and after vet new X9 Spectrum. Deworming yearly but w/the vet last mouth a four day deworming-
All of the above, along w/X-rays, Altra-sounds, varies blood work, poop samples, pee samples and vitals ALL are good, as my male I lost on July 10, 2019. The pain I feel cause I received a call over the 4th just to set my mind at easy, Everything looked great- took him to a vet less than 12hrs before he died w/fluids coming out his nose and mouth. And now my other two are exhibiting the same symptoms since July when my male died. I’ve had exterminators here for the house and car. I”ve followed all the in the box eliminations- mostly allergies, mostly Chi. have large eyes, mostly the mouth is shaped that way, mostly the age (which Lacey is 9 and Riker her son is 4 and Zz my AKC Bronze GrChampion Bronze, barn-hunt titled, CGC, Rally title need I say more was still trying to chase his ball a day before the fluids gushed out of him. The last vet I saw 12hrs prior thought he was obese and I kept telling her he was bloated, his neck hurt to the point he didn’t want is lead put on, he loved to go bye-bye but he didn’t want to be picked up, swelled out, was licking the air and me (which made me think he was lacking a mineral but he was trying to tell me something. Lacey his wife- is losing control of her back end and her joints are good and she is athletic- WAS and now I believe she is losing her hearing or getting dementia due to behavior oddness, w/in a month from seeing one ER vet to another she has congentive eye problems, something of which happens over time not 2wks. The corrosion chemicle would explain the acculturation on her eye as well as Rikers at 4yrs of age. Exstreem bloating. Their faces are swelled, they don’t itch, they rub. If I wipe them with a towel prior to bring them in sometimes they cry out in pain. Need I go on. I can send photo’s can you please help me. Additionally, I can feel the difference in the texture of the coats and I’ve been I wouldn’t say bit or stung but shocked. It isn’t static electricity either but enough to make me jump and let go. Does this sound like I’m dealing with some type of microscopic lady beetle? I have pixs of dogs, specimens and my reactions on my hands.
4. It all started with vomiting and diarrhea
5. Now eating oddly, bloating, unstable in back end- on Lacey and I believe it is starting on Riker- strange growths in mouth, dental work done beginning of Sept. but mouth looks horrific and gums are turning black. I do not know if blood work needs to be specific for toxins- I know parasites are non-existent due to my preventative care. I’m told nothing is seen on the dogs and vitals are good. Allergy meds don’t help, the cough syrup, I believe is a band-aid for an underlying problem; although, it has a slight sedative effect which helps keep them to be comfortable. Not that they are coughing a lot just clearing throats with a couple ganging coughs. Point blank they are getting worse and I’ve spent almost $4,000.00 since the end of July 2019- Not including my horrible loss July 10, 2019. Does anyone know what is happening to my babies?? is this the lady beetle?

Dogs’ Mouths Damaged by Ladybugs

There are plenty of things to worry about when it comes to keeping our dogs safe. We must protect our dogs from traffic, overly exuberant children, toxic plants, choking hazards like rawhides or small toys, onions, chocolate, Xyitol and everything else under the sun that we know can cause them harm.

Now there’s another thing to fret over—a species of invasive Asian ladybugs that poses a danger to dogs. In Kansas, veterinarians report seeing cases of dogs with dozens of these insects inside the mouths of dogs, which is painful for them. Ladybugs can cause chemical burns to the dog’s mouth because of the insect’s toxins.

According to veterinarians who have treated dogs with this condition, if your dog is foaming at the mouth, drooling, lethargic or refusing to eat, these ladybugs could be something to check for. (Each of these symptoms can be caused by many other problems from minor to extremely serious. A mouthful of these insects is only one of many possibilities.)

Many guardians have been able to remove the insects themselves using their fingers, a spoon or even a wooden tongue depressor. Your own dexterity and your dog’s willingness to allow you to work on his mouth in this way will determine whether you can remove them yourself or whether a visit to the veterinarian is required.

Have you known of any dogs who have suffered due to a mouthful of ladybugs?

Bailey the dog was off her food and lethargic when she was taken to see her family veterinarian. What they found in her mouth was downright shocking! Bailey, a notorious bug chaser (and eater) had over 40 Asian beetles—not to be confused with domestic ladybugs—stuck to the roof of her mouth.

No amount of doggy toothpaste was going to help Bailey. This was a case for forceps.

The vet quickly removed the dead bugs, and Bailey was feeling better in no time. But the story hadn’t ended.

When the vet shared the image on Facebook, it caused a tidal wave of concern—not to mention a total gross-out factor, which is understandable. Read on to find out more about this photo, and whether you should be concerned for your own pup.

You May Also Like: Can My Dog Eat Insects?

The shocking ladybugs-in-mouth photo on Facebook

The awful-looking bug infestation is hard to look at, but in reality, quite benign. Once they’re removed, any damage to the roof of the mouth should quickly heal up with good care.

What’s the deal with Asian lady beetles?

These beetles are not the same as domestic ladybugs (source). Native to Asia, they’re considered a nuisance by most, known to infest buildings as well as secrete a foul-smelling yellow liquid.

To get rid of Asian lady beetles indoors, prevention is key. The University of Kentucky recommends sealing exterior cracks and entry points. Once indoors, vacuuming those little suckers up is typically more effective than using insecticides.

Why do these beetles stick in a dog’s mouth?

Asian lady beetles secrete a gooey liquid as they die, which caused them to stick to the roof of the mouth rather than get swallowed.

Could this happen to my dog?

Luckily, poor Bailey’s problem is quite rare, but any dog who loves to chase flying bugs could run afoul of these sticky beetles. If you notice loss of appetite, lethargy, and frothy drool in your insect-loving dog, checking the mouth is a good idea. If you do find a beetle or two in there, you can remove them at home—or take them to your vet, of course.

The Snopes response to this story shows just how rare the problem really is. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.

In the news

A year ago, a similar photo went viral, prompting a response form the American Veterinary Medicine Association.

AVMA response

AVMA responded via a Facebook post with more info for pet owners and vets. Here’s the full text of their answer (see it embedded below, too):

“This is going around on Facebook and causing a bit of panic, so here’s the real scoop: there are invasive Asian ladybugs that can cause problems, but our “regular” ladybugs DO NOT. So there’s no need to panic and pry open your dog’s mouth to look for zombie ladybugs.

And we’ll say this again…if you have ANY questions or concerns about your pet’s health, your veterinarian is your best source of information!

Veterinarians, here’s the abstract of a report about the problems caused by the invasive bugs.”

Hat tip: Life Daily and KAKE News

Asian Lady Beetles: Could They Harm Your Dog?

By Paula Fitzsimmons

When a graphic image of Bailey, the dog with over 40 Asian lady beetles stuck to the roof of her mouth, surfaced in 2016, pet parents were naturally alarmed. Fortunately, her veterinarian was able to remove the beetles, and Bailey was restored to good health.

As a good dog parent, you’d like to know if Asian lady beetles are a threat to your pet. The short answer is yes. But the good news is that these encounters are rare, and when they do occur, they’re usually quite treatable.

Find out whether your dog is at risk, how to prevent encounters with Asian lady beetles, and what to do if she ends up like Bailey.

Asian Lady Beetles 101

It can be tough to spot the difference between a multi-colored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) and a native North American species like the nine-spotted ladybug (referred to as C-9). One handy way to tell the difference is to look at the area behind the beetle’s head (called the pronotum)—the Asian beetle’s is yellow-colored with black markings in the middle. Asian beetles also vary widely in color from yellow to black, and have anywhere from zero to 19 spots on the outer shell, in contrast to C-9’s standard nine.

Both species are from a family of lady beetles called Coccinellidae, and both have voracious appetites for nuisance pests like aphids, scale insects, and mites. Beetles are so effective at pest control, in fact, that the federal government has introduced them from eastern Asia to help control our aphid populations. They’ve been prolific across the country since about the mid-1980s, and are present in much of the continental United States, except for Montana, Wyoming, and parts of the Southwest.

While Asian beetle populations have grown in numbers, North American species like C-9 (Coccinella novemnotata) have dwindled during the past several decades, according to The Lost Ladybug Project. So chances are, the little orange oval-shaped tomato bug you’ve encountered recently is the Asian variety.

Asian lady beetles may be coveted for their role as natural pest control agents, but they also have a reputation as a nuisance species. Their hefty appetites extend to non-pest insects, like monarch butterfly eggs and larvae (whose numbers have already been reduced), says Dr. Robert Koch, assistant professor and extension entomologist at the University of Minnesota, Department of Entomology in Saint Paul.

They’re also hardier and more aggressive than North American ladybugs (who experts say don’t pose a risk to dogs). In the fall, “they aggregate on and in homes and other buildings to find protected locations for spending winter,” he says.

It’s not unusual to see thousands of Asian beetles congregated in an area. When Barton County, Kansas, (where Bailey is from) experienced a bumper crop of sugarcane aphids last year, Asian beetles were also on hand to enjoy the feast. “We literally had swarms of them,” says Dr. Lindsay Mitchell, owner of Hoisington Veterinary Hospital in Hoisington, Kansas, and Bailey’s vet.

One of the reasons they’re able to remain stuck so firmly to a dog’s palate is because of their size and shape, says Patrick (PJ) Liesch, assistant faculty associate and extension entomologist with the Department of Entomology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Insect exoskeletons are made out of a tough material known as chitin, which does not readily break down,” he say. “In the mouth of an animal, this material would be somewhat similar to the hull of a popcorn kernel.”

Plus beetles have hard, thickened wing covers that protect their hind wings from damage, Liesch says. “In lady beetles, these wing covers give the insects a rounded, hemispherical shape, which would make them difficult for the dog’s tongue to remove.”

Are Asian Lady Beetles a Threat to Dogs?

When attacked, Asian lady beetles release body fluids (called hemolymph) containing stinky and poisonous chemicals. “Hemolymph is corrosive, and can cause chemical burns to the mouth and/or gastrointestinal tract. It also has a strong repellent odor and foul taste,” says Dr. Elizabeth Doll, a veterinarian with WVRC Emergency and Specialty Pet Care in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

That awful taste and odor is why few dogs will attempt to eat more than a few of them, she says. Dog and beetle conflicts are so rare, that aside from anecdotal reports (like Bailey’s), a lone formal published paper exists on the subject. In this case, the patient had 16 Asian lady beetles embedded in the mucous membrane covering the hard palate, Doll says.

If a dog quickly swallows the beetles, erosion to the mouth appears to be minimal, says Dr. Nancy C. Hinkle, professor of veterinary entomology in the Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia, Athens. “Likely the dog will quickly seek water to wash away the taste—which is a good thing, because it minimizes the chance that beetles will get stuck in the esophagus.”

If the chemical burns are not treated properly, an infection could develop and potentially become serious. “Luckily for any dog with damage to their mouth, the gums and tissues of the mouth heal very quickly—usually within seven days,” says Dr. Jonathan Babyak, clinical assistant professor in the Emergency and Critical Care Department at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

The cases that Mitchell saw, “were limited to anorexia due to painful ulcerations in the mouth,” she says. “The ulcers calmed down with manual removal of the beetles and treatment of the ulcers.”

But Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD, adds, “While I’ve not seen any cases myself, veterinarians have reported a few cases of dogs ingesting these beetles and subsequently developing vomiting, diarrhea, and other signs of gastroenteritis. One dog even died as a result.”

What Precautions Can You Take Against Asian Lady Beetles?

As uncommon as these encounters are, it doesn’t hurt to be vigilant for your dog’s sake. Animals are going to be curious and eat things they shouldn’t eat. Some dogs—like Bailey, who has had to have beetles removed several times after that initial incident—are more curious than others, Mitchell says.

“I don’t know that there is a great way to prevent it,” she says. “If the owner notices a great number of these Asian lady beetles around, they may peek into their pet’s mouth after they have been outside. If a pet owner notices that their pet is drooling or not wanting to eat, simply look in their mouth.”

Your best option as a dog parent is to keep beetle numbers in your home low, says Dr. Michael Skvarla, insect identifier and extension educator in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University in University Park.

“Ways to do this include mechanical exclusion, such as caulking cracks around windows, doors, pipes, and the attic where beetles enter a home, and vacuuming up beetles once they enter a home,” he says.

Asian lady beetles seek out sheltered spots in fall in anticipation of winter. “Out in nature, this would include cliff and rock faces and loose bark of dead trees,” Liesch says. “However, these insects can also readily sneak into buildings. Depending on the conditions, large numbers of these insects can occasionally be active indoors during the late fall, winter, or early spring months.”

What to Do If Your Dog Encounters Beetles

Some signs of a dangerous encounter with beetles include excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth, reluctance to eat, and a foul odor coming from the mouth, Doll says. “The beetles may be visible within the mouth, or open sores may be seen. Possible side effects after ingesting large quantities of beetles include reduced appetite, vomiting, diarrhea that may be bloody, and lethargy.” If any of these signs are present, call your vet for an immediate evaluation.

Treatment starts with physically removing the beetles, which your vet may need to perform under sedation or, if severely impacted, under general anesthesia, Babyak says. “Secondly, damage from the hemolymph should be treated with appropriate medications and nursing care. Usually, we would think about treating pain, inflammation, and accelerating healing by removing dead or severely injured tissue. An antibiotic may be necessary to treat or prevent infection. This treatment would be considered routine by most primary care veterinarians.”

Mitchell treats her patients with a mouthwash containing sucralfate, lidocaine, and diphenhydramine to treat ulcers and reduce discomfort. Treatment for every canine patient she has seen, including Bailey, has fortunately been successful.

Chances are, your dog won’t end up like Bailey. But Asian beetle encounters are still a possibility, especially if your pup is the curious type. Being mindful of your dog’s surroundings while outside, and keeping beetle numbers in your home to a minimum, goes a long way to ensuring she doesn’t end up with a mouthful of bugs…or worse.

Ladybug – Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle

The multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis), has become common throughout the United States and all of Iowa. It is well known for the annoying habit of accumulating on the sides of buildings and wandering indoors during the fall. Asian lady beetles are a beneficial biological control in trees during the summer, and in fields and gardens during the fall, but can be a severe household nuisance during late fall and winter. Wooded residential and industrial areas are especially prone to problems.

The origins of the Asian lady beetles are not clear, although it appears the current pest species was not purposefully released in the United States or in Iowa. Beetles that arrived by accident in ports such as New Orleans in the late 1980s have crawled and flown all by themselves to all corners of the country.


Asian lady beetle

The multicolored Asian lady beetle is 1/3 inch in length; dome-shaped; yellowish-orange to red with variable black spots on the back. Deep orange is the most common color. The 19 black spots may be faint or missing. There is a black “W” shaped mark on the thorax.

Asian lady beetles, like other accidental invaders such as the boxelder bug, are “outdoor” insects that create a nuisance by wandering indoors during a limited portion of their life cycle. They do not feed or reproduce indoors; they cannot attack the house structure, furniture, or fabrics. They cannot sting or carry diseases. Lady beetles do not feed on people though they infrequently pinch exposed skin. Lady beetles may leave a slimy smear and they have a distinct odor when squashed.

Asian lady beetles follow their instinctive behavior and fly to sunny, exposed surfaces when preparing to hibernate through the winter. The time of beetle flight varies but is usually from mid-September through October (depending on weather). Light colored buildings and walls in full sun appear to attract the most beetles.


Sealing exterior gaps and cracks around windows, doors, eaves, roofs, siding and other points of access before the beetles appear can prevent unwanted entry. Experience suggests, however, that comprehensive pest proofing is time-consuming, often impractical and usually not 100% effective. For large infestations with intolerable numbers of beetles, spraying pyrethroid insecticides such as permethrin or esfenvalerate to the outside of buildings when the beetles appear may help prevent pest entry. Homeowner insecticides other than pyrethroids usually do not provide satisfactory prevention.

Long-term relief may come from planting trees that will grow up to shade the south and west sides of the house. The most practical control for beetles already inside is to vacuum or sweep them up and discard. Indoor sprays are of very limited benefit. Interior light traps are available.


Asian lady beetles eating soybean aphids

When lady beetles stranded indoors for the winter are emerging from inside house walls, there is no control option more practical or effective than repeated vacuuming. Spraying insecticides has little or no effect. However, one alternative for homeowners unable/unwilling to pursue wintertime ladybug control via vacuuming is the use of lady beetle traps as indoor collecting devices. Traps are not designed to kill lady beetles but rather to collect them for removal from the building. The traps use a light to attract the lady beetles at night. Black light bulbs work best, but incandescent light bulbs will also work.

Light traps can be purchased from companies that sell insect collecting equipment, or you can make your own. Basically what you will need is a light fixture with a funnel below it that funnels the beetles into a container from which they cannot escape.

A simple design for a light trap can be found online at Ohio State University Extension.

Additional Photos

Additional photos of lady beetles can be found here.

Do you live in Iowa and have an insect you would like identified?

The Iowa State University Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic will identify your insect, provide information on what it eats, life cycle, and if it is a pest the best ways to manage them. Please see our website for current forms, fees, and instructions on preserving and mailing insects.

Contact information for each states diagnostic laboratory for U.S. residents. If you live outside of Iowa please do not submit a sample without contacting the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic.

Do Ladybugs Bite?

Do Ladybugs Bite? Although they are often considered beneficial bugs in the garden, a ladybug bite is anything but advantageous for the unlucky person on the receiving end. It stings and leaves a mark. But is this something you should worry about? Are ladybugs dangerous to humans? Or are ladybugs harmful to the plants they sometimes overwhelm? Here’s what you need to know.

Ladybug danger Ladybugs are indeed capable of biting humans. More often than not, they prefer not to bite, but when they do, ladybugs bite with surprisingly sharp mouthparts. Instead of biting, these multicolored, spotted insects will often bleed on a person, releasing a pungent odor that wards off most prey. This blood is generally mistaken for another type of bodily secretion, but no matter what you think it is, one thing is clear when it happens: the ladybug isn’t enjoying its time with you.

Still, ladybug bites aren’t poisonous or deadly, and no blood meal is taken. They can’t transmit any parasites or diseases, but they can be a real pain – literally. Bites from a ladybug often result in a raised red bump that may hurt for a few days. But other than that, the biting mouthparts of this insect rarely have the force required to break through skin. Still, as with virtually any insect, some people are allergic to ladybug bites, and might develop a reaction. If you develop a rash, infection or unusual swelling, seek medical attention.

Other concerns Due to the infrequency with which ladybugs chomp down on humans, their overwintering and gathering habits are much more concerning to homeowners. In some parts of the country, it’s not uncommon to see thousands of ladybugs congregating around just one house. As numbers increase, so does the risk that you or your family members will get bitten by a ladybug.

At the first sign of a ladybug problem, call Terminix® and reduce the chances of receiving ladybug bites in and around your home.