Asian Lady Beetle Attacks Dogs – The True Story

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Robert Pavlis

By now most of you are familiar with the Asian lady beetle. They look as cute as our native ladybugs, but they bite. They invade our homes in fall and crawl all over our windows in spring. But worst of all, the Asian lady beetle attacks dogs and can kill them. Or at least that is what is reported in social media and some newspapers.

Some people are quick to point out that this is a complete myth. The posted pictures, like the one below, are photoshopped. Fake-news sites use them to create fear in the minds of dog owners.

What is the truth? Gardenmyths.com has looked into the matter and will reveal all.

Asian Lady Beetle Attacks Dogs
Asian Lady Beetle Attacks Dogs

Asian Lady Beetle Attacks Dog

The first question to ask, is the picture real? It might be. There are quite a few pictures floating around the internet and it is hard to tell which are real and which are not. The picture above is not part of the study discussed below, but it is probably real.

Have dogs been attacked by Asian lady beetles? Yes. This is not fake news. The incident was published as a short communication in the journal Toxicon (ref 2). The abstract says in part “A six-year old mixed-breed dog presented with severe trauma to the oral mucosa suggestive of chemical burn. Sixteen Harmonia axyridis (Coccinellidae) were removed from the oral cavity.” Harmonia axyridis is the scientific name for Asian lady beetle.

Food Science for Gardeners, by Robert Pavlis

It is important to note that insects do get inside dog mouths and can be a problem. These are usually ants and flies which dogs seem to like to chase and eat. It is extremely rare to find an Asian lady beetle in a dogs mouth.

 

Can you tell the difference between native ladybugs and Asian lady beetles? Say “M”!

asian lay beetle
Asian lay beetle

 

Do Asian Lady Beetles Harm the Dog?

If the beetle gets embedded in the mucosa of the mouth (the soft pink tissue that lines the mouth), it fights back by starting chemical warfare. The beetle creates a toxic substance that has the effect of burning the dogs mouth. Once the beetle is stuck, it is hard for the beetle to leave and for the dog to get rid of it. It usually requires manual removal.

Note: we are talking about the mucosa, not the mucus as reported by many web sites.

The chemicals produced by the beetle can cause ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract when swallowed. In severe cases it can be fatal.

Do Asian Beetles Attack Dogs?

No. It is the dog that attacks the beetle. For some reason dogs like to bite at insects and it may get an Asian beetle or two, especially if the dog snaps at a group of them on the ground.

Keep in mind that this is a rare occurrence, and if you teach your dog not to eat insects, it’s not a problem.

Reference:

  1. Ladybugs or Asian Lady Beetles in a Dog’s Mouth; http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/ask-a-vet-can-lady-bugs-embed-in-a-dogs-mouth
  2. Acute corrosion of the oral mucosa in a dog due to ingestion of Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041010108003395
  3. Photo Source; https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ladybugs-beetles-dog-mouth/

 

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

3 thoughts on “Asian Lady Beetle Attacks Dogs – The True Story”

  1. As a dog owner thank you for this information. I used to live in a farming community where they started showing up by the thousands every season. By mid-summer it became a nightmare to go outside without being covered from head to toe, and by the fall they had to be vacuumed up by the hundreds inside the house. Come to find out farmers were buying these bugs and releasing them amongst their crops. Maybe it was cheaper than purchasing ladybugs to battle bad insects but it seems that in the end the cure became worse than the disease.

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