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Harmonia axyridis ladybug invasion and allergy

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Beginning in 1916 Harmonia axyridis, an orange/red lady beetle with variable black spotting, was imported into the United States from Asia. This agricultural pest-control predator established independent feral populations in North America by 1988. Subsequently, Harmonia axyridis has become a pest to homeowners and various horticultural enterprises. Seeking winter hibernation sites, ladybug swarms invade human homes/habitats primarily in the fall. With increased Harmonia axyridis exposures, human ladybug allergy was first reported in 1998. Ladybug-specific IgE hypersensitivity has been reported in all ages (1–78 years old) and both sexes. Clinical ladybug allergy manifests variously as rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma, urticaria, and angioedema. A majority, but not all, allergic individuals are primarily exposed at home. Large fall swarms and smaller spring dispersions produce corresponding peaks in ladybug allergy. Ladybug hemolymph is a primary source of allergen. Har a 1 and Har a 2 major ladybug allergens have been characterized. Ladybug allergy prevalence in one endemic area was reported as 10%. Self-report of ladybug pests at home did not predict ladybug allergy, suggesting other exposures are important also. Some individuals have no history of atopy before manifestation of ladybug allergy. Ladybug, cat, cockroach, and house-dust mites are the most likely allergens to present as isolated single positive skin tests in an allergist's office. Ladybug should be a standard skin test allergen for all allergy patients tested in endemic areas. Avoidance of ladybug exposure is paramount to treatment.
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Keywords: Allergic rhinitis; Asian lady beetle; Harmonia axyridis; allergen extract; asthma; immunotherapy; ladybird; ladybug; skin test; urticaria

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Morgantown, West Virginia

Publication date: March 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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