Images of what appear to be ladybugs infesting dogs' mouths have been circulating around the internet for a couple of years now. The truth is that they are not ladybugs but an invasive beetle known as Asian Lady Beetle, among other names. These bugs were brought into the U.S. in an attempt to control aphid populations. Now some dogs are getting the downside of these bugs.
Image via Snopes
These are not the friendly and gentle ladybugs that we have come to know and love. They are a bit bigger and tend to have more spots than ladybugs, but they can have varying numbers of spots, including none. They have been introduced in small areas around North America for 100 years. After helping with getting rid of aphids they did not seem to get established in the wild. About 70 years later they were finally discovered thriving in the wild. They are everywhere now and the occasional local dog is paying the price.
Photo by spacebirdy/CC-BY-SA-3.0, Image via Wikimedia
These beetles don't appear to go after dogs, but dogs who chase them down and try to eat them may end up with a real mouthful. The beetles manage to attach themselves to the inside of the dog's mouth by secreting a mucus as a part of their defense mechanism. This causes painful corrosion of the dog's oral tissues. The result of the appearance of residual wounds after removal are ulcers that appear much like chemical burns.
Image via YouTube
In 2015 a dog named Bailey living in Kansas came to internet notoriety for one of these photos after chasing and trying to eat too many of these beetles. The photo was taken at the vets office after he had been chasing and eating them. The vet removed the bugs with forceps and got Bailey up and going again. Bailey is fine now and hopefully this will curb his insect appetites now.
The symptoms are drowsiness, lack of appetite, and excessive drooling. It is very important to note that regular ladybugs do NOT cause this reaction, only the Asian Lady Beetles. While the dog is in pain, uncomfortable, and unhappy this infestation does not appear to be life-threatening. The chance for addition infection from the mouth sores is possible however. All you have to do to deal with these little critters is to reach in and gently remove them from your dogs mouth. If you see sores in your dog's mouth it is a good idea to get it checked out by the vet.
Do not panic. As horrible as this infestation looks, it is incredibly rare and extremely unlikely to ever happen to your dog. The beetles, also known as the Halloween Lady Beetle or the Harlequin Lady Beetle, is an invasive species and there are control issues that crop up from time to time. They can be a problem for some native species in various areas and are a threat to the grape industry.