April 5, 2002 - Carol Y. Kauscher of D'BugLady Pest Management Co. in Cincinnati, OH sent us this photo of a wheelbug feasting on an Asian lady beetle. The photo was taken by her friend George Tyo, who currently has an infestation of lady beetles. While related to our own native lady bugs, which are considered beneficial insects, because they feed on certain agricultural pests, the Asian lady beetle is a non-native variety and can be considered either a beneficial insect or a pest, depending who you ask.
The multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) is native to Asia but occurs in many areas of the United States. This beneficial insect was imported and released as early as 1916 in attempts to naturally control certain insect pests. This variably colored and spotted lady beetle is an effective, natural control for harmful plant pests such as aphids, scale and other soft-bodied arthropods. Still, its tendency to overwinter in homes and other buildings, sometimes in large numbers, may make them a nuisance to many persons. If agitated or squashed, the beetles may exhibit a defensive reaction known as reflex bleeding, in which a yellow fluid with an unpleasant odor is released from leg joints. This reaction generally prevents predators, such a birds, from eating lady beetles. But in the home, the fluid may stain walls and fabrics.
While the USDA acknowledges that the lady beetle has become a problem in some regions of the U.S., natural controls, such as the wheelbug, are expected to keep the population at a reasonable number. But not to worry, if the wheelbug at Mr. Tyo's house cannot keep his lady beetles in check, D'Bug Lady has already offered her services.
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