Are orange ladybirds poisonous? Different colours explained

In recent weeks, you may have noticed more ladybirds stopping by to pay a visit to your home.

You wouldn’t be alone, as many have taken to Twitter to share pictures of swarms of ladybirds around their doors, windows and walls.

Ladybirds start to make more of an appearance as temperatures start to drop, as they gravitate towards warmer areas, such as your cosy house.

While the red and black Harlequin ladybirds may be the most commonly sighted, they do come in a number of different colours, including orange.

But what do these colours mean, and are any ladybirds poisonous?

Are orange ladybirds poisonous?

No need to fret, ladybirds are not poisonous to humans but they can cause allergic reactions and affect some animals if eaten.

Orange-tinted ladybugs – also known as Asian lady beetles – tend to have the most toxins in their bodies, meaning that they may be the most allergenic to humans.

Some species of ladybird may bite under certain circumstances, such as when there is no food or water but this is very rare.

A bite from a ladybird could leave a slight mark and possibly a bit of itching but some people may suffer an allergic reaction from a bite.

Ladybirds can also secrete a musky, unpleasant smell when threatened that can leave behind a yellowish-red fluid, which is actually their blood.

Their blood contains proteins that can cause allergic reactions in people.

If you experience any worrying symptoms then seek medical advice from your doctor.

What other colours of ladybird are there?

The colour of a ladybird depends upon what variety it is, its diet, and the region they live in.

Their colours also serve as a warning to predators or as camouflage to protect themselves.

A study conducted by the University of Essex determined that the colour offers an honest signal to predators, revealing how potentially how toxic they are.

‘Relatively inconspicuous species, such as the larch ladybird, have low levels of defence and place more emphasis on avoiding being seen, whereas, more conspicuous and colourful species, such as the two-spot ladybird, openly flaunt their strong defences to predators like birds’ said Dr Martin Stevens of The University of Exter.

Here is a breakdown of other colours of ladybird and what they mean:

  • Orange: Otherwise known as Asian lady beetles, orange ladybirds tend to have the most toxins in their bodies. Therefore, they may be the most allergenic to humans.
  • Black: Black ladybirds with small red spots are called pine ladybirds. They are one of the more toxic ladybug species, but not as much as orange ones.
  • Brown: Known as larch ladybugs, they rely on camouflage to protect themselves from predators. They are the least toxic ladybug species.
  • Red: Red bugs tend to be more predatory and able to defend themselves. Red is a deterrent to many larger predators, including birds. However, they are not as poisonous as their orange counterparts.

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