We’ve all been there. You have the best intentions. You put that creepy crawly bug you just found into a cup, put a piece of paper over the top in case it goes Tasmanian devil in there, and then encourage the intruding bug outside.
Ladybugs and ladybirds hibernate during the winter and are naturally used to colder temperatures. In fact, being inside can greatly disrupt their hibernation cycle due to the warm weather in your home. You should put ladybugs and ladybirds outside during the warmest part of the day around 2pm-3pm.
But wait, it’s so cold outside – and just where the heck should I put the insect? Will the bug you thought you just rescued survive? We’re going to take a look at ladybugs & ladybirds and get into the nitty gritty of putting them inside.
Ladybug & Ladybird: The Same Thing?
First things first: are ladybugs and ladybirds the same thing? The answer is yes. They are both the same family (Coccinellidae).
The main difference is regional colloquialisms. In North America, these beetles are referred to as ladybugs. In Britain and other English-speaking areas such as Australia and Canada, they are called ladybirds.
Did I say beetle? Yep, ladybugs and ladybirds are not considered true bugs by entomologists. They are actually in the beetle classification. Coccinellidae includes over 6,000 known variations of ladybugs and ladybirds.
Most of us know ladybugs and ladybirds as the typical red-colored beetle with small black spots on their wings. However, these beetles can be yellow, orange, brown, even blue. They can be striped, banded, or have spots.
Should You Put Ladybugs & Ladybirds Outside?
If you find single rogue ladybugs or ladybirds, it’s very possible it’s in your house by accident. Whether a window was left open or there’s a hole in your screen door, the ladybug or ladybird probably doesn’t want to be inside.
Your house doesn’t have any food sources for ladybugs and ladybirds, and probably doesn’t have a source of freshwater to keep it hydrated.
However, if you find a ladybug or ladybird in your house there are three things to consider before putting it outside: what time of year is it? What time of day is it? Where are you putting it outside?
These four factors can help you decide if you should put ladybugs and ladybirds outside, or if it’s best to either leave it alone or perhaps relocate it to a less conspicuous area. Either way, it is completely your call!
Ladybugs and ladybirds might be getting through the cracks in your windows or underneath your door. If so, you may want to look into a gap closer like the Holikme Door Draft Stoppe.
Is It a Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle?
First things first – we need to make sure that you truly have a ladybug or ladybird in your home (they are generally harmless) as opposed to a lady beetle which is actually considered a nuisance since they can bite.
If you’re unfamiliar with multicolored Asian lady beetles, they are a type of beetle that was introduced in the 1960s to control agricultural pests. It’s not clear if this was what started their infestation, or if they became established when they came on freights from japan.
Their bites are more of an annoyance than a problem, but they can also leave yellow markings on your walls from the fluid that they produce (as do other ladybugs.)
Compared to your typical ladybug or ladybird, multicolored Asian lady beetles are characteristic of the letter “M” shaped marking on the back of their head, visible from behind, and are more aggressive than their counterparts.
Although they are described as aggressive, this is mainly toward their competitors, but it depends on if they feel threatened. If you find them in your house, follow the same protocols as a regular ladybugs and ladybirds to remove them from your home, but get rid of them sooner than later.
They typically become more of a nuisance in large numbers, but can possibly be that “mystery bug” that’s been biting you and you just had no idea. More than likely, you’ll be able to recognize if you have a problem with these beetles sooner than later.
If you’re finding that you may have Asian lady beetles at your home in large numbers, you can contact our nationwide network of exterminators to have a professional examine your property.
What Time of Year Is It?
If it’s summertime, seeing ladybugs and ladybirds inside your house is most likely a mistake on the beetle’s part. Ladybugs and ladybirds do not want to be inside of your house in the warmer months. This is the time when they are foraging for food, finding mates, and fattening up for winter hibernation.
If you find a ladybug or ladybird in your house and it is consistently above freezing temperatures at night, it’s safe to put them outside. It’s best if you place them near a bush where they can find shelter and food. The main food source of these beetles are aphids, which tend to hang out around bushes.
On the other hand, if it is the dead of winter and you happen to find them at nighttime, you may want to stop and think before putting a ladybug or ladybird outside. Ladybugs and ladybirds are cold-blooded insects that are not meant to be active during cold temperatures.
Before winter starts, ladybugs and ladybirds will fill up on food just like bears do, and will go into hibernation. During this period, they prefer somewhere moist where they can remain hydrated.
During hibernation, ladybugs and ladybirds will not eat. They rely on stored fats gained during the warmer months. If ladybugs and ladybirds are disturbed and moved out into cold temperatures, it’s possible they will not be able to find proper cover or warmth to survive.
That being said, there are certain times during the colder months that putting a ladybugs and ladybirds outside will not be dangerous.
What Time of Day Is It?
The best time to put ladybugs and ladybirds outside during the winter months will be during the warmest part of the day, usually around 2-3 pm.
With that being said, 2-3 pm during a blizzard isn’t the same as 2-3 pm on a sunny winter day. Ladybugs and ladybirdss find any cover they can during the winter, and will not be able to survive long if there is heavy snow and no cover for them.
If your invaders aren’t necessarily bothering you at the moment, it may be better to wait for a sunny winter day before putting them outside. When the time is right, gather up your invaders. Here are some tips on how to gather large swarms of ladybugs and ladybirdss:
- Vacuum – Believe it or not, vacuums do not normally hurt bugs, spiders, or any other living thing you might suck up. It’s a convenient way to gather them all in one container.
- Plastic cups – if there are not hundreds of them, a plastic cup is perfect. Simply scoop your ladybugs and ladybirds into the plastic cup and transfer them outside.
- Professional – If you’re not sure how to gather up your ladybugs and ladybirds, consider calling in a professional. They will know exactly how to handle it!
Where to Put Ladybugs & Ladybirds Outside?
After you gather your unwanted critters and the temperatures have warmed a little bit, it’s time to set your rescued invaders free. So where exactly should you put them? In a tree? Under a bush?
Ladybugs don’t normally feed during the winter time, and their food sources are hibernating anyways. Because of this, it’s not really important to look for any particular food sources.
The best place to put ladybugs and ladybirds outside during the winter is near cover. This includes near rocks, trees, fallen logs, and any natural crevices or cracks you can see.
Once the beetles have been set free, they will likely cuddle up together again under a rock or inside a cracked tree trunk and sleep away the rest of the cold weather.
Why Do Ladybugs & Ladybirds Come Inside?
So just what the heck are ladybugs and ladybirds doing in your house in the first place? The most common time to find ladybugs and ladybirds in your house is during the cold months of winter.
These beetles are accustomed to hibernating in the winter. They normally find cracks and crevices in tree trunks, bark, logs, and rocks to hang out during the winter.
It’s not unusual to see ladybugs and ladybirds huddled together with hundreds of other beetles. This helps them stay warm in the winter.
If you see them in your house, the most likely culprit is they’re trying to stay out of the harsh conditions outside. Ladybugs and ladybirds can’t tell the difference between a nice tree trunk crack and the spaces between your house siding.
You can find them near windows, on your ceiling, or packed together in a corner of your garage. Ladybugs and ladybirds especially like to hibernate near any moist areas, such as the basement, so they can stay hydrated during their slumber.
Are They Harmful?
Some bugs that invade your house and property are definitely not wanted. Although spiders and house centipedes may unnerve you, they are very good for your house as they eat smaller, more dangerous pests such as ticks and mosquitos.
Ladybugs and ladybirds are very similar. They will not destroy your clothes like some species of moths. They do not harm wood like termites. Really, ladybugs and ladybirds don’t cause anyone to shriek and wave their hands around as wasps and bees do. They can bite, but it is unlikely.
However, there are some downsides to having ladybugs and ladybirds in your house.
When ladybugs and ladybirds find a comfortable and safe place to hunker down for winter, they release a pheromone to attract other buddy beetles that will be able to help keep them warm. If these beetles are inside your house, they may release this pheromone, which has a distinct odor.
Additionally, if ladybugs and ladybirds feel threatened, they will release a smelly yellow liquid to ward off predators. This liquid can stain walls and clothing and will leave a distinct smell that can linger in the house.
How to Keep Ladybugs & Ladybirds Out of Your House
There are several tips and tricks to keep ladybugs and ladybirds out of your house in the first place. This way, you won’t have to worry about waiting for the perfect time to place them outside.
Winterize Your Home
Check your screens, doors, windows, and vents to make sure there is no access to the outside. Ladybugs and ladybirds are built to survive. They will do anything to find a warm place for the winter.
If you’re not sure about where your home invaders are coming into the house, try the most obvious places first: basement, crawl spaces, and attics.
If you can’t seem to find any leaks there, wait for a windy day. Close all the windows and doors and use an incense to try to find where the leak is coming from. The smoke will naturally lead to where the leak is.
Keep a Garden
Gardens are the easiest place to find ladybugs and ladybirds’ favorite food: aphids. Having a garden will likely attract ladybugs and ladybirds to it instead of your house.
You don’t necessarily need to plant a whole garden with vegetables if you don’t plan to use them. You can simply plant a few flowers. It will still attract aphids, and therefore ladybugs and ladybirds.
Ladybugs, ladybirds, and many other species of insects do not like these types of plants. They can be toxic to them, and insects are smart enough to recognize which plants can have an adverse effect on them.
This is a great option if you want to repel ladybugs and ladybirds naturally. No chemical-smelling pesticides or repellants needed.
Now, if you’re keeping a garden and plant mums, you may not want to actually repel ladybugs or ladybirds due to their insect-controlling abilities.
You can go ahead and plant them around the windows of your home. More than likely, this will keep the ladybugs and ladybirds away from that specific area of your home, rather than your entire home itself.
Use Citronella Candles
During the winter months, ladybugs and ladybirds will find a nice cozy place they think is safe and warm. When they find it, they’ll emit a pheromone that will attract other beetles to their location.
Ladybugs and ladybirds that have found a good place in your home will do the same thing. To avoid the scent reaching other ladybugs and ladybirds, try burning a candle or lighting a citronella candle. The scent will mask any smells emitted by your unwelcome guests
Additionally, it can also help to repel other insects such as mosquitoes.
You’ll have to keep relighting the citronella candle – but you can its a good stop gap option while you remove the existing ladybugs from your home, before they can attract more.
Build or Buy a Ladybug / Ladybird House!
Yep, just like with kids. If they find some shelter elsewhere, they may leave your house! Ladybug houses are simple shelters constructed to attract insects to them. They’re an easy source of shelter for when it rains or becomes cold.
If you’re not the crafty sort, you can buy a ladybug/ladybird house online. Here are a few options:
This simple yet functional insect house is very quaint. It will fit right in with your garden décor, being constructed of wood and rolled heavy cardboard. It has several different compartments for all insect shelter needs.
This insect house is made from Cunninghamia wood which is known for being resistant to rot. It comes from a veteran-owned business.
If you have a garden, it’s a great place to put your ladybugs and ladybirds’ house. When you attract ladybugs and ladybirds to your garden, they will keep garden pests such as aphids in check.
If you’re more of a do-it-yourself type of person, you can make your own ladybugs and ladybirds’ house. A step-by-step process can be found here.
Ladybugs, Ladybirds & The Environment
So, what’s the big deal about ladybugs and ladybirds? Why go through all the trouble of putting them outside and placing ladybug and ladybird houses around?
Ladybugs and ladybirds are natural predators of sap feeders. Sap feeders include mealybugs, scale insects, aphids, true bugs, spider mites, and whiteflies. To put it in simpler terms, ladybugs and ladybirds eat garden pest insects.
Sap feeders do not always feed on sap alone. These insects will eat the inner tissue of leaves, causing them to get spots and then eventually turn brown and perish. They are very destructive to garden plants.
In addition to eating garden pests, ladybugs and ladybirds will not lay eggs inside your house. They choose where they lay eggs very carefully, putting them in the midst of infestations of pest insects. This way, when the larvae hatch, they have a food source.
This is good news if you find ladybugs and ladybirds in your house. They will not multiply or infest your home like other insects and spiders.
The Dark Side of The Ladybugs & Ladybirds
Don’t worry, I won’t break out into iconic band verses here (you know what I’m talking about), but it’s important to discuss the downside to ladybugs and ladybirds. So far, we’ve discussed all the good they do for the environment and their most gentle disposition.
However, there are a few types of ladybugs and ladybirds out there that are plant-feeding. The Mexican bean beetle for example feeds on beans and soybeans. The squash beetle feeds on pumpkins, cantaloupe, and squash.
Plant-feeding beetles are usually regional, only showing up in certain areas but not others. If you’re not sure what kind of ladybugs and ladybirds you are looking at, try researching it to find out if it’s friend or foe.
An additional downside to ladybugs and ladybirds is that they have the capability of biting you. Ladybugs and ladybirds have mandibles that they use to chew their prey.
A study done on multicolored Asian ladybugs and ladybirds found that of 641 beetles, 26% bit the hand of the researcher. They concluded that if left undisturbed, a beetle could bite enough times to cause minor bleeding.
With that being said, it’s never a good idea to handle ladybugs and ladybirds with your bare hands. If one lands on your hand, you can always use a piece of paper or cup to encourage it to either fly away or crawl off your hand onto something else.
Wrapping It Up!
Ladybugs and ladybirdss, commonly called ladybugs or ladybirds, are found all throughout the United States. With over 5,000 different variations, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re looking at if you see one.
If you find ladybugs and ladybirds in your house, the most likely culprit is winter weather. Although these insects would probably prefer you wait until spring to put them outside, there are certain times of the day when you can place them outside in the winter and the ladybugs and ladybirds will be able to survive.
If you’re ever unsure of or uncomfortable with taking care of the problem yourself, consider calling a professional to rid your house of ladybugs and ladybirds!
Erler, E. (2019, October 25). How Can I Get Rid Of Asian Ladybugs In My House? Retrieved from University of New Hamphsire: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/how-can-i-get-rid-asian-ladybugs-my-house
Giorgi, A., & Vandenberg, N. (2009, November 09). Coccinellidae. Retrieved from Tree Of Life Web Project: http://tolweb.org/Coccinellidae/9170
How Do LadyBugs Survive The Winter? (2018). Retrieved from Washington State University: https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/2017/04/10/ladybugs-survive-winter/
Potter, M. F., Bessin, R., & Townsend, L. (n.d.). Asian Ladybugs and ladybirds Infestation Of Structures. Retrieved from University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef416
Sucking Pests. (n.d.). Retrieved from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: https://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/landscape/sapfeed/#:~:text=Common%20sap%2Dfeeding%20insects%20include,mouth%20parts%20feed%20on%20sap
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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