Think ladybugs are harmless? Think again. The Asian lady beetle, which looks similar to the regular ladybug, is a nonnative species that has been infesting the U.S.
"Just yesterday, my business partner was complaining there were several in his car," said Cooper Anderson, who owns a winery in Austin, Texas.
First brought in to northern Louisiana as a means to control the aphid populations in the 1960s, the Japanese bugs have now spread to nearly every continental state.
"They're highly beneficial, but they have one drawback," professor Roy Parker, of Texas A&M, told KBTX. "They tend to want to gather in large numbers during the winter."
While regular ladybugs are completely harmless, Asian lady beetles bite and feed on humans, according to AWM.
Asian lady beetles “are attracted to illuminated surfaces,” like sunlit walls, and “are such a nuisance” in many parts of the U.S. come fall “that they affect quality of life,” the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture wrote online.
University of Texas entomologist Dr. Alex Wild told WOAI that Asian lady beetles seek shelter from the cold in homes. “They have a habit of tasting things they land on,” he said.
Wild explains, "The main danger is one you don't really see. They're out there in large numbers, they're not from here, they're eating a lot of our native insects in ways that would have unpredictable effects in terms of pest control."
Parker advises vacuuming often and dumping the waste immediately after. "They will move into structures and buildings and such, and they're just a nuisance," he said.
The beetles are also put off by any citrus scent and home improvement stores sell products specifically geared towards getting rid of the pests.
If you find an Asian lady beetle, do not squish it. They release a noxious stench and leave behind a yellow stain.