They may resemble innocent ladybugs, but Asian lady beetles have several significant differences. They vary in color, have more spots, and are far more aggressive than the ladybugs we know and love.
According to experts, their powerful survival instincts may even make them a risk to your dog. Asian lady beetles search for warm, humid locations to ride out the winter.
And every now and then, they seek refuge inside a dog’s mouth.
“Humidity is their normal environment,” Mikal Shamsi of Pest Police told the Houston Chronicle. “They latch onto the roofs of the dogs’ mouths and it’s hard to remove them – you have to do them one by one with tweezers. They are not a parasite, though, they are a pest and they are just determined to survive.”
The above photo shows a dog named Bailey. It went viral in 2016 when the poor pup’s vet discovered more than 40 Asian lady beetles burrowed into the roof of her mouth. At the time, Barton County, Kansas, where Bailey lives was experiencing an infestation of the beetles.
Cases like hers are rare, but any dog could potentially ingest the beetles while rooting around lawns or gardens. Dogs that eat them on purpose usually stop after one or two when the awful taste and odor hit their senses.
They are not toxic, but Asian lady beetles release a smelly fluid called hemolymph that contains poisonous chemicals. This fluid causes painful burns to the dog’s mouth and digestive tract when released by a threatened beetle. Lesions caused by hemolymph may become infected, but usually heal up with supportive care and antibiotics.
Due to their hardy nature, the beetles are found almost everywhere in the continental United States, except for Montana, Wyoming, and parts of the Southwest.
You can protect your dog from these pesky buggers by promptly treating infestations in and around your home. Caulk any cracks to prevent them from getting inside and be sure to check your pup’s mouth regularly.
Learn more about the Asian lady beetle here.