A shocked dog lover is calling for owners to check their canines’ mouths after finding a swarm of ladybirds infesting her beloved pooch’s mouth.
Jan Eatock, owner of Darilance Kennels in Huntly, found eight stuck in one of her award winning dogs.
“It’s unbelievable,” said
I noticed the bugs three years ago because they made a mess on the windows and the walls, Eatock said.
“I happened to come across a picture from America of a dog having some in its mouth and looked in one of my dogs mouths and I nearly died.”
Harlequin Ladybirds, native to Asia, can be more than twice the size of typical New Zealand ladybirds at around five to eight millimetres in length, with most showing a black ‘M’ on a white base just below the neck.
When the graphic pictures of Eatock’s afflicted pups were passed around, veterinarians thought it was a joke.
Eatock had to withdraw her four-year-old show dog, Cuteun – a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – from competition because she was playing host to the bugs.
Eatock said Cuteun eats the bugs, which then stick to the inside of her mouth.
“She’s just constantly licking trying to dislodge them from the roof of the mouth but she can’t.
“She’s struggling to eat now because her mouth is so sore with all these caustic burns.”
Entomologist Ruud Kleinpaste said tarsal claws make the insect difficult to remove.
He was surprised Cuteun ate the bugs because of the foul stench they release to ward off predators.
“When you tease them or hassle them they start bleeding from their knees. It’s a reflex action that says, ‘I’m going to get some real toxic s**t out of my joints and that’ll teach you to eat me’.”
In order to prevent an infestation, Eatock has sprayed her deck, put up layers of netting around entrances into her house and started to regularly check and de-ladybird the mouths of her nine dogs by hand.
However, the problem is getting worse every year.
“There’s no stopping them. Not unless you surround your whole property with shade cloth.”
The Ministry for Primary Industries told Eatock, via email, that there was no control method for the seasonal pest.
MPI stated that as temperatures drop throughout Autumn, the ladybirds appear in numbers searching for somewhere warm to hibernate for the winter.
The bugs are spreading down the country and can be found a far down as Wellington, Eatock said.
“I do hope the story gets out and helps other owners to understand the importance of checking inside their dog’s mouth.”