When Frances Jiriks, from Hoisington, Kansas, noticed that her dog Bailey was not acting like himself, she took him to get checked out at the Hoisington Veterinary Hospital. It was there that she was shocked to find, strangely, that her beloved pet had a strain of ladybugs lodged on the roof of his mouth.
As reported by KAKE in October 2016, Bailey was the type of dog that enjoyed chasing flies and other insects in the garden. However, his owner got concerned when she noticed changes in his appetite and behavior. “Night before last when he came in to eat, he couldn’t, he just didn’t eat and was just lethargic and foaming at the mouth,” she told KAKE.
When Dr. Lindsay Mitchell checked him, she noticed that the poor dog had 30 to 40 Asian lady beetles—which are similar to the ladybug, but more aggressive—stuck to the upper palate of his mouth.
— KAKE News (@KAKEnews) October 20, 2016
Bailey was the second canine that Dr. Mitchell had found to have that particular insect problem that same day. Dr. Mitchell issued a warning on the hospital’s Facebook page with a picture of Bailey’s mouth and a caption that read, “This is the second pup I have seen like this today. If your pet is drooling or foaming at the mouth, look for these ladybugs.
“They cause ulcers on the tongue and mouth and have a very painful bite.”
Many who saw the image initially wondered if it was fake. But apparently, these little pests, which are very similar in appearance to ladybugs, tend to seek warmth in the winter. They have only started becoming a problem in recent years. And they can infect homes and even your pet’s mouth.
While all the Asian beetles were removed from Bailey’s mouth, the vet advised pet owners in the North Texas area to regularly check their dogs for symptoms.
“The longer the beetle is attached to the mouth tissue, the more ulcerations you see,” she explains.
The Hoisington Veterinary Hospital Facebook page posted advice on how people can remove the pesky insects from their pet’s mouths by themselves.
This is going around on Facebook and causing a bit of panic, so here's the real scoop: there are invasive Asian ladybugs…
“If your pet lets you, you can use your fingers. Or if she tries to bite, you may be able to remove them with a spoon or tongue depressor,” the post reads.
While mostly harmless, according to Pestcontrol.com, the Asian beetle can indeed get aggressive and even bite humans, but “[t]hough the bite is not very painful, some people can have allergic reactions, ranging from eye problems like conjunctivitis (“pink eye”) to hay fever, cough, asthma, or hives.”
The most efficient way to remove them from your home is by vacuuming. Squishing them could produce an unpleasant odor and leave stains.
In December 2018, Mikal Shamsi of Pest Police spoke to the Houston Chronicle and gave further information about these small pests. According to him, the reason they can lodge themselves to the inside of the dog’s mouth is that they enjoy humid environments.
He explains that the bites are “non-venomous” and that the insects “normally are in large groups, so if one does it, then they all do it and the smell is a lot stronger.” He also advises that they are more likely to be found in homes with “garden or foliage that produces any type of seed or bud.”
Most people consider ladybugs to be harmless and even lucky little insects. Who would have thought that their annoying cousins the Asian beetle could cause so much trouble for pets and pet owners?