The ladybug is one of the few insects that many people consider to be cute and charming. However, it’s not so cute when you find that hundreds of them have decided to congregate in your home! This may leave you wondering, “What is attracting these ladybugs to my home, and how can I get them to leave?”
Ladybugs enter homes through small crevices in search of a safe place to overwinter. These insects are particularly attracted to light-colored homes, illuminated surfaces, and dwellings near fields or woods. The best way to manage ladybugs is to collect them in a vacuum and release them outside.
If you’re wondering what aspects of your home are attracting these spotted insects, and how you can encourage them to stay in the great outdoors, keep on reading!
What Kind Of Ladybug Is In My Home?
If you experience an annual surge of invading ladybugs in your home, usually in the late fall or early winter, you’re probably encountering a species called the Asian Ladybug.
Before we dive into some ways you can give these little insects an eviction notice, let’s take a closer look at this species to understand its pros and cons in our environment.
North America is home to about 500 different species of ladybugs, according to the National Park Service. While many of these species are native, one non-native invasive species is spreading across the country like wildfire!
This species, called the Asian ladybug (also known as the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle or Lady Bird), is usually orange or red and has a variable number of black spots.
You can also identify an Asian ladybug by its black “M” or “W” marking located on the white area behind its head.
The Asian Ladybug: Friend or Foe?
As with most bugs, their relationship to people can be a little ambiguous. Asian Ladybugs are no different, as they may pose benefits to gardeners and farmers, while also posing risks to average home and business owners.
A Friend to Gardeners and Farmers
As their name suggests, Asian ladybugs are originally native to Asia. You might be wondering, “What are they doing in the U.S.?”
Asian ladybugs were introduced to the U.S. in the 1990s as a natural form of pest control, according to Cornell University. The adult beetles and their larvae feed on soft-bodied arthropods, like aphids, that are common pests for growers.
Gardeners, farmers, and other growers also welcome Asian ladybugs in their fields because they cut down the need for insecticides and other harmful forms of pest management.
If there isn’t a high ladybug population in their area, growers can purchase the ladybugs from nurseries or even online!
A Foe to Homeowners
While Asian ladybugs are super beneficial for their control of insect pests, they are a nuisance for homeowners!
Like other ladybugs, Asian ladybugs “overwinter,” meaning they choose a safe spot where they can hunker down for the cold season. But while most native ladybugs overwinter in dead trees or logs, Asian ladybugs like to hibernate in our homes!
According to Michigan State University, Asian ladybugs are used to spending the winter protected in the rocky cliffs of Asia. Since many of our regions aren’t mountainous, the ladybugs faced quite a predicament when looking for places to overwinter in the U.S. They instead resorted to using our homes and buildings as makeshift hibernation spots.
Thankfully, these spotted insects are just considered nuisance pests and pose no danger to your home, family, or pets.
Unlike other invasive pests, Asian ladybugs don’t carry diseases, lay eggs in your home, or damage your construction. Most people just find them annoying because they cluster in large numbers, which isn’t a cute look for your house, and they tend to fly around your home when the temperature is warm.
There’s also a possibility that they will bite or “pinch” you if they come in contact with your skin. Don’t worry, their bite isn’t painful and is seldom serious.
If you seriously don’t want these cute little pests in your home, there are a few things you should do when you first find them.
What Attracts Ladybugs to Your Home?
Being so small, there are a lot of ways in which ladybugs can get into your home. Luckily however, there are a few places that people note them coming in from.
Now that we know a little more about Asian ladybugs, let’s explore the several aspects of your home that are particularly inviting to these little insects.
Ladybugs Are Drawn to Cracks and Crevices
Asian ladybugs had access to plenty of little cracks and crevices in the rocky mountains of their native country of Japan, where they would wait out the cold months. In the U.S., they instead seek out cracks and crevices in homes and other buildings.
Beginning in September, or when the weather starts to cool down, Asian ladybugs gather their friends and family to find a place to spend the winter. They fly to homes in large numbers and enter by crawling under siding, through ventilation openings, through cracks in window and door frames, or other small places that allow them access into your home.
This means that homes in poor repair, and especially log homes, are the most vulnerable to ladybug infestation.
Once they find a cozy spot, the ladybugs just chill out and live on fat that they’ve previously stored. Sounds kinda nice, doesn’t it?
Pheromones Attract Lots of Ladybugs
We all like to hang around someone who smells nice, right? It turns out that ladybugs are no different! From their cozy hibernation spots in your house, Asian ladybugs emit a sort of “perfume,” called an attraction pheromone, that attracts many other ladybugs to the house.
Not only does this attraction pheromone guide other ladybugs to the best spots to overwinter, but it also helps them reproduce! Once they become active again in the spring, they can easily find a mate among all the ladybugs that were attracted to the pheromones.
Ladybugs Like Sunlit and Warm Homes
Just as humans like to head south for the winter in search of a warm place to bask in the sun, Asian ladybugs seek out areas of your home that receive lots of sunshine and warmth.
While ladybugs are in search of an entryway into your home, they stay warm by congregating in large numbers on the sunniest parts of your home’s exterior.
In late winter or early spring, when the temperature begins to warm up, ladybugs emerge from their hiding spaces in your home as they search for ways to get back outside.
They are attracted to warmth and light, so they often fly to windows or light fixtures in an attempt to exit your home. It’s during this time that the ladybugs are the peskiest since they fly around or huddle in large groups.
Ladybugs are Drawn to Contrasting Colors
It turns out that ladybugs have an eye for design! According to research conducted at the University of Kentucky, ladybugs are particularly attracted to contrasting light-dark features on homes.
For example, ladybugs might flock to a home with navy blue shutters contrasted with white siding, or darker siding set off by light-colored shutters.
Other areas of your home may also feature contrasting colors, such as dark gutters on light-colored siding or windows lined with white trim.
Ladybugs are also attracted to light colors in general, such as white, yellow, and light gray.
Houses with Gardens Lure in Ladybugs
From the spring to the fall, Asian ladybugs gather in fields, yards, and woods to feed on aphids and other soft-bodied arthropods.
Unfortunately, this means that dwellings with gardens or large yards, or those near woods and fields, are especially prone to ladybug infestations.
Once ladybugs finish their feeding in the fall, a home that is near their feeding location is a very convenient overwintering spot!
How to Get Rid of Ladybugs in Your Home
Since many homes have little cracks and crevices, are near fields or woods, have sunlit spaces, and feature a light-colored exterior, you’ve likely either had an Asian ladybug infestation or may have one in the future.
No need to panic! Let’s go over some simple, easy ways you can prevent and manage a ladybug infestation.
Block Small Entryways
The best way to manage a ladybug infestation is to prevent it from happening in the first place! The first step you should take in preventing these nuisance insects from entering your home is to seal as many cracks and crevices as possible.
The timing of this first step is very important! Be sure to seal any small openings in your home by September, as you want to close these insect entryways before they begin looking for places where they can overwinter.
We know that it sounds super daunting to inspect your entire home for any possible teeny-tiny openings, especially if you own a multi-story home. Don’t get overwhelmed, because we’re here to help!
The list below indicates common areas in the home that often need extra attention, or that may have small gaps where ladybugs can enter. Follow this list and inspect these areas one by one!
- Cracks or openings around window and door frames
- Openings in siding or around utility pipes
- Gaps under doors (including garage doors)
- Gaps around outdoor faucets, gas meters, dryer vents, and wires
- Damaged window or ventilation screens
If you find cracks or openings in any of these areas, seal them up with caulk or expandable foam. For larger openings, place steel wool or copper mesh into the hole and seal with expandable foam.
If you need a recommendation, check out this Great Stuff Insulating Foam Sealant. It seals openings up to 1 inch and is even water-resistant!
You can also use this WORKPRO Caulking Tool, which will help you caulk hard-to-reach places!
Here are some additional tips you can follow to ladybug-proof your home:
- Pay attention to even the smallest gaps! Openings about ⅛ of an inch or larger can allow ladybugs into your home. Just think about how small that is.
- Place door sweeps under all outside doors.
- Add rubber bottom seals to garage doors.
- Install foam weatherstripping around sliding glass doors or other doors.
- Place screening behind attic and crawl space vents.
Pro tip: If sealing all of these entry points seems too daunting of a task, you can place double-sided sticky tape on all suspected areas of entry. The tape will catch invading ladybugs, which will help you locate and seal high-traffic entryways.
Not only will implementing these steps prevent ladybug infestations but doing so will also prevent other insect infestations!
It’s best to perform these exclusion procedures each year to ensure proper maintenance of your home.
Collect and Release The Ladybugs
The following methods will help you manage a current ladybug infestation. Keep in mind that Asian ladybugs are beneficial to our environment (since they eat harmful pests) and for this reason should not be harmed when possible.
You should also be careful when removing these insects from your home, because, when crushed, Asian ladybugs emit a yellow discharge that can stain your clothing, furniture, or walls. Their remains also attract other invading bugs!
If your home is currently serving as a ladybug motel, the best step to take in removing the insects from your home is to vacuum them up! We know this sounds kinda inhumane, but this method does not harm the ladybugs.
Gathering The Ladybugs
This step takes some patience, however. During the winter, Asian ladybugs will likely be out of sight as they are hiding in walls or your attic. When the temperature begins to warm, they may venture out of their hiding spots and gather in sunny areas of your home (think light-colored, sunlit walls or windows).
Once you identify ladybug clusters around your home, remove the clusters by simply vacuuming them up. You can do so with a handheld vacuum, like this BLACK + DECKER Dustbuster Cordless Handheld Vacuum, or with a vacuum attachment.
Be sure to empty the vacuum bag outside promptly, or you risk the insects crawling out of the vacuum and back into your home. Also, be sure to empty the vacuum far enough away from your home to ensure that they won’t come right back inside.
Be gentle as you are removing the insects and try not to make any sudden movement because alarmed ladybugs will release a yellow fluid that stains clothing and walls. This is why we recommend the vacuum method as opposed to squashing the insects with a paper towel.
If you don’t have a vacuum, you can (carefully!) sweep up the ladybugs and dispose of them outside.
Collecting Ladybugs From Your Garden
If you have a garden, you can also collect ladybugs from your home and release them in the spring to protect your plants from harmful aphids. The University of Tennessee, offers some great tips on the catch and release of ladybugs, which we summarized into a step-by-step below!
- Grab a jar (a mason jar will do the trick) and poke some air holes in the lid.
- Collect the ladybugs from your home (either by vacuuming them up or sweeping them into a dust pan) and place them on a piece of cardboard.
- Place the cardboard (with the ladybugs) inside the jar.
- Put the jar in the fridge.
- Once a week, take the jar out of the fridge and sprinkle a little bit of water inside. The warm air will “wake up” the ladybugs and they will drink the water. Allow them to drink for up to 30 minutes. Make sure to not place the jar in direct sunlight for a long period.
- Repeat step 5 until outside temperatures remain above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Release the ladybugs into your garden and watch them protect your plants!
Use Light Traps To Catch Ladybugs
Asian ladybugs, like many other insects, are highly attracted to sources of light. According to Penn State University, black (ultra-violet) light is the most attractive to Asian ladybugs.
You can find these traps at your local pest control store or online. Or, check out this Katchy Indoor Insect Trap. This light trap also works on other insects, like gnats and mosquitoes!
Here’s some tips for installing ladybug light traps in your home:
- Only buy traps that have sticky glue boards inside instead of “bug zapping” traps. Remember, we want to do our best to catch ladybugs and release them back outside.
- Light traps are the most effective when used at night. This way, they don’t have to compete with other sources of light.
- If you want to use your light trap during the day, install it in a darker area of your home, or close your curtains or blinds.
If you don’t want to shell out some cash for a commercial light trap, you can make your own!
Remove their Ladybug Pheromones
Once you have successfully cleared up your ladybug infestation, your work isn’t over yet! As you are removing ladybug clusters, be sure to take note of the location of these clusters.
In areas where ladybugs congregate, including both the interior and exterior of your home, they leave behind pheromones that may attract other ladybugs to that site. You can remove any lingering scents by washing these areas with warm water and a mild dish detergent.
In addition to washing away their scents, you can also add some of your own to an area. In fact, there are a few main scents that ladybugs are known to particularly hate!
Contact a Professional
While most ladybug infestations are self-limiting and can be managed by following the steps above, we know it can be frustrating if these infestations are an annual problem. If this is the case, it might be time to call in the professionals for help.
Many of these professionals will tell you that indoor insecticides are not effective for removing ladybugs, as they will need to be vacuumed up anyway. Dead ladybugs can also attract other insects that feed on the ladybugs.
It is also not advisable to “fog” for ladybugs, as fogging does not reach the insects that are hiding in walls or other small spaces.
Professionals can, however, apply insecticides to the exterior of your home to prevent ladybugs from getting inside. Just be sure to contact them before September, which is when Asian ladybugs begin moving indoors for the winter.
check out our pest control professional finder page to find a pro near you!
We know that was a lot, so thanks for reading up to this point! You now know the five aspects of your home that attract ladybugs, and we hope you now have the confidence to both prevent and manage Asian ladybug infestations!
Just remember that ladybugs are doing us a favor by eliminating pests that prey on our plants, so be kind to them! You can, of course, block their entry into your home, but be sure to remove them from your home without harming them.
Release them back outside so they can do their job!
Huelsman, M., Kovach, J., Jasinski, J., Young, C., & Eisley, B. (2002). Multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) as a nuisance pest in households in Ohio. Proceedings of 4th International Conference on Urban Pests, 243–250.
Koch, R. L. (2003). The multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia Axyridis: A review of its biology, uses in biological control, and non-target impacts. Journal of Insect Science, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1093/jis/3.1.32
Labrie, G., Coderre, D., & Lucas, É. (2008). Overwintering strategy of multicolored Asian lady beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): Cold-free space as a factor of invasive success. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 101(5), 860–866. https://doi.org/10.1093/aesa/101.5.860