The ladybug (Coccinella noemnotata) was dedicated as Tennessee’s state insect in 1975. Their life cycle is only about a month long but they are an important part of Tennessee agriculture as they feed on other bugs that can destroy farmers crops. Lady beetles, are sometimes called ladybugs or lady bird beetles.
Nuisances. In spite of their important role in nature, lady beetles can be seasonal pests in and around homes, particularly from late autumn until early spring. During late autumn, homeowners complain that lady beetles cluster on the sides of houses; “crunch” under foot; get into food and drinks; alight on hands, arms, and other parts of the body; and sometimes enter the ears and mouth. The lady beetles can be so numerous that they appear to be “raining” outdoors or swarming
like bees. They also use their mouth parts to probe on the skin making it seem they are biting.
Stains and Odor. When lady beetles are disturbed, they defend themselves by exuding a yellow-orange body fluid, which is their blood. This defense mechanism is termed reflex bleeding. The blood has a foul odor and can permanently stain walls, drapes, carpeting, etc. Thus, do not crush or swat lady beetles so as to minimize their defensive behavior.
Bites. Although an uncommon occurrence, lady beetles have been reported to nibble, nip, or “bite” humans. These lady beetles are not aggressive toward
humans, and they simply may be examining an unfamiliar substrate or they may be seeking moisture. Their occasional nibbling is not reported to break the skin or draw human blood.
Allergic Reactions. Some individuals report an allergenic response to lady beetles. Although published reports are uncommon, lady beetles apparently can cause inhalant allergies. These allergies clear up once the lady beetles are removed. Some people are sensitive or allergic to the fluid that lady beetles secrete, which can cause contact dermatitis and a stinging sensation. However, lady beetles cannot sting, because they do not possess a stinger.
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