In mid-November 2015, a photograph purportedly showing what resemble common ladybugs and Japanese beetles embedded on the roof of a dog’s mouth began circulating via Facebook:
Most of the users who shared the above-displayed image on Facebook included a variation of the following message:
SOMEBODY ASKED ME TO PASS THIS ALONG …. Japanese Beetles and Lady Bugs can attach to the roof of your dog’s mouth, and make him/HER become ill. Symptoms include excessive drooling. Check your dog’s mouth and remove any insects.
While we haven’t been able to identify who the “Somebody” is in the above-quoted Facebook post, a message posted by the Hands & Paws group did provide some information about the image’s origin:
This posted photograph is recent — posted by a vet tech and when I saw the photo started doing research – because I too thought there was no way the photo could be real.
There is no photoshop — there is no hidden agenda. It’s just me. The Founder of a tiny little dog rescue in Florida finding the photo and the facts behind the photo amazing, astonishing and wanted to share the information with my fellow dog lovers.
We reached out to Hands & Paws for more information about the image without results, but multiple incidents are on record of beetles embedding in dogs’ mouths, such as this one from November 2016:
Frances Jiriks brought her pooch Bailey into Hoisington Veterinary Hospital after he refused to eat, she told KAKE. He was also foaming at the mouth and a bit lethargic, the dog owner said.
When they arrived at the animal clinic, Dr. Lindsay Mitchell discovered between 30 and 40 lady beetles clinging to the roof of Bailey’s mouth.
The beetles look nearly identical to ladybugs though they secrete a mucus which allows them to stick, as they did inside Bailey’s mouth.
The bugs were successfully removed from the dog’s mouth, but Mitchell warned their presence could pose a variety of health risks to man’s best friend.
In 2008, Lindsey Derek published an article in the journal Toxicon about the subject:
A six-year old mixed-breed dog presented with severe trauma to the oral mucosa suggestive of chemical burn. Sixteen Harmonia axyridis (Coccinellidae) were removed from the oral cavity, which revealed trauma consistent with chemical burn. The beetles had become embedded in mucosa covering the hard palate and required manual removal. A diagnosis of beetle-induced chemical burn was warranted and consistent with the nature of the chemical constituents of H. axyridis hemolymph.
That article also included a photograph of the beetles in the dog’s mouth, which closely resembled the image circulated in November 2015: