The most common species of ladybird found in the UK is the seven-spot ladybird, which has a shiny red body and black spots and can be found in many different habitats, including forests, suburbs, grasslands and along rivers. They are most active during spring and summer and can often be found in the garden. When hibernating in winter, colonies choose warm and secluded places, which can include spaces inside your house. When a large number of ladybirds hibernate in your house, the likelihood of you or a member of your family getting bitten increases.
Recently, there has been an influx of ladybirds in the UK from Asia and North America. The Harmonia Axyridis, or Harlequin Ladybird as it is more commonly known, is an invasive species which is larger and more aggressive than species native to the UK. This species of ladybird can be red or orange with multiple spots and has been known to bite more frequently than other species when they don’t have any food. There have also been a few documented cases of a bite from a Harlequin ladybird causing a severe allergic reaction.
Ladybirds are capable of biting and will be more likely to bite when they have no food source. The biting mouthparts of this insect rarely has the force required to break the skin and luckily their bites are not venomous or toxic, nor can they transmit any parasites or disease. However, bites from a ladybird can still be painful and unpleasant. The most typical reaction to a ladybird bite is:
- A raised red bump that may hurt or sting for a few days
Despite the fact that a ladybird bite will rarely break the skin, there can always be a chance that the bite could become infected. Signs of a potentially infected ladybird bite are:
- Swelling and redness around the bite
- Warm skin around the bite
- Hardening of the skin around the area
- Pus draining from the wound
Allergic reaction symptoms
There have been rare recorded cases of a ladybird bite causing an allergic reaction. Rapid onset of any of the following symptoms following a ladybird bite could indicate a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Anaphylaxis is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:
- Swelling of the throat and tongue
- Facial swelling
- Additional skin reactions, including itching, hives and pale or flushed skin
- Difficulty breathing
- A weak, rapid pulse
- Dizziness or fainting
- Loss of consciousness
- Additional possible symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain
In the unusual event that a bite causes symptoms of a severe reaction, you will need immediate emergency care. If your bite is showing signs of being infected, we recommend that you contact Ahmey’s and make an appointment to see a doctor. If the bite is incredibly swollen, the doctor might prescribe a topical cream or oral medication to reduce swelling. If the bite is infected, the doctor may also potentially prescribe antibiotics.
Ladybird bites do not usually require medical treatment. Any mild discomfort can be treated by the patient themselves in the ways shown below.
First aid for ladybird bites:
- Wash the affected area gently with soap and water and apply an antiseptic to clean the wound and reduce the chance of a bacterial infection
- Place an ice pack or a cold compress (cloth or flannel cooled with cold water) to reduce any swelling
- If possible, elevate or raise the affected area to reduce swelling
- Avoid scratching the area to reduce the risk of introducing infection
- Ladybirds are unlikely to bite you. However, the larger the number of ladybirds you are exposed to, the greater the risk of being bitten
Ensure that your windows and doors are properly sealed or covered in a fine mesh that will prevent ladybirds and other insects from entering your home