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VERIFY: Yes, these Asian Lady Beetles can be harmful for your pet

They look like ladybugs because they are ladybugs. Just a different species, brought in from Asia. They can make your pets sick.

WASHINGTON — Verify exists to bring you the facts in a sea of misinformation on social media. From coronavirus to elections and yes —  even your furry friends.

A viewer sent us a photo from Facebook. It claims these ladybug look-alikes, known as Asian lady beetles, are poisonous to dogs.

"Heads up DOG parents, lovers," the post reads. "We have had a lot these Asian beetles, thinking they were lady bugs, yay. Good luck!?! NOOO." 

So the Verify team took the question straight to the experts. 

QUESTION: 

Are Asian lady beetles harmful to pets?

ANSWER: 

Yes, they can be harmful if enough are consumed.

OUR SOURCES:

The American Veterinary Medical Association

The ASPCA Poison Control Center

Floyd Shockley, an entomologist with the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.

Credit: WUSA9

WHAT WE FOUND:

Floyd Shockley, from the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, told our researchers that the Asian Lady Beetle is not actually a "ladybug look-alike." That's because they are technically ladybugs as well, although a different species brought in from Asia.

These Asian lady Beetles are slightly larger than traditional ladybugs and also slightly longer. Asian Lady Beetles typically have an "M" shaped white marking as well.

Shockley said most pets do not like the taste of Asian Lady Beetles, and so it's unlikely they will eat a large quantity. 

"It doesn't taste very good," he said. "And this is because they're trying to convince predators that they're not something they want to eat. But you know, how often does a dog chomp down on something that it probably shouldn't have." 

Tina Wismer, a veterinarian with the ASPCA said that a small amount likely won’t cause problems. But larger quantities could lead to mouth and stomach ulcers, and make a dog sick.

The AVMA agreed. In a statement to our Verify researchers, the association said the bugs could give pets an upset stomach or get stuck in the grooves of their mouth.

"There are reports of them getting into the mouths dogs," said Shockley. "And that's usually because the dog is snapping at them as they're flying around people's homes." 

In these situations, the bugs can lodge onto the roof of the dog's mouth, releasing toxic blood as a defense mechanism. This substance is what can make a dog sick. 

"It's not deadly by any means," said Shockley. "They'll survive. It would be unpleasant for the dog, and it'll be especially unpleasant for their owners." 

Both organizations said if you think your pet ate some of these beetles, call your vet. 

Shockley said that this period is particularly busy for Asian Lady Beetles, as they head for cover in homes and attics, as the weather changes. 

So we can Verify that yes. These beetles can be harmful if your pet eats enough.

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