Ladybugs, also known as ladybirds or lady beetles refer to small beetles belonging to the family Coccinellidae. There are over 5000 different species of these insects whose sizes ranging from 0.8cm to 1.8 cm.
Most of these beetles are considered useful by agriculturalists since they prey on insects such as scale insects and aphids (homopterans) which damage crops.
Ladybirds come in various colors as well as patterns. For instance, in the UK, those with a red and black shiny body are most common. They are harmless to human beings and help in controlling various plant-eating pests including aphids. One can eat as many as 5000 aphids.
Are ladybugs toxic to cats?
One nature of cats and dogs is to hunt for their preys and eat them. Whereas they mainly depend on larger animals especially rodents, small birds, some reptiles and so on, these animals at times prey on various bugs.
What about these ladybugs? Are ladybugs harmful to cats or can these pets prey on them?
The most conservative answer is yes. They are harmful to felines, but not all of them. Whereas they might seem harmless to human beings, they are able to cause ulcerations or “chemical burns in a pet’s mouth or digestive tract,” and to be specific the Asian lady beetle or Harmonia axyridis.
During winter, these insects tend to move to warmer places, and they will be hibernating on cracks found on your doors, windows or walls and while in this location, it is possible for various pets including cats to want to eat them.
Furthermore, the Asian ladybirds can cause “a little bit of ulceration on the roof of the mouth were the bugs secrete that hemolymph” both to dogs and cats since they might get attached their palate (mouth’s roof).
In case your pet eats the Asian lady beetles, you need to check for symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and so on. Besides the Asian type, the rest of ladybugs are not harmful to felines but have a bad taste especially the yellow, red or those with bright colors.
However, should they be consumed in large quantities, they may cause “stomach upset and even ulceration and impaction.” Fortunately, as already states, due to their bad tastes, most cats will tend to avoid them after tasting them once.
In dogs, “some signs of a dangerous encounter with beetles include excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth, reluctance to eat, and a foul odor coming from the mouth.” Also, if a large amount is ingested, expect diarrhea (that may be bloodstained), loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy.
Finally, should these pets be affected by the Asian ladybird beetle, you should not be worried. Inform your vet for treatment. Treatment is uncomplicated and has a good prognosis. Also, the chances of an encounter with these insects are rare.
If you are dealing with any bugs infestation and you have pets, you should always go for safe means of their extermination. This is to avoid incidences where your pets munch those bugs you have exterminated using toxic means such as insecticides.
In the case of ladybugs a cat’s mouth, treatment will entail manual removal under sedation if it is severe. This will be followed by treatment with the right medication as well as nursing care.
So far, there has not been a reported incident in these pets. What was reported in a dog’s mouth is the Asian lady beetle. This makes them potentially harmful to pets.