Fall is my favorite season of the year…and also my least favorite. Every fall we are invaded by “ladybugs.” They are teeny innocent looking little creatures that manage to get inside the house through the teeniest, tiniest crack they can find. Since the weather has turned cooler the “ladybugs” are looking for someplace warm to stay. This year it seems the “ladybugs” have invited some friends.
Because of all the rain we have had this year we are also being invaded by millipedes. Every morning they are lying dead on the floors, the walls and the ceilings. For some reason they seem to like to congregate the most around the back door from the kitchen that leads out onto the deck to the gas grill and pool. So every morning the first thing I do is grab the broom and dust pan and commence to do “The Worm Patrol.” Even though the millipedes like to congregate at that particular door and the walls around it, I find them all through the house. All I can do is sweep them up and hope they will go away soon.
As bad as that sounds, it is not as bad as the “ladybug” swarm we have every year. The “ladybugs” are attracted to bright surfaces such as the side of the house that is in the sun. They are also attracted to light colored houses, trim or gutters. These “ladybugs” are looking for a warm place to hibernate so the south and west sides of the house are hit the hardest.
Everyone I’ve talked to about them refer to these reddish-orange bugs with black dots on their backs as “ladybugs.” But even though they look REAL similar to ladybugs, they are not true ladybugs. They are actually Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles. The Asian lady beetle is not as bright red as a ladybug – more of a faded orange color with varying black spots or no spots at all. And they bite! The Asian lady beetle will dive bomb at our heads or arms and bite. The Asian lady beetles secrete a foul smelling yellow fluid from their leg joints as a defensive mechanism. Humans can only smell this if there are swarms of the Asian lady beetles secreting at once. The odor is particularly strong when they feel threatened. They apparently view being vacuumed up as a threatening situation. The secretion also leaves white or yellow marks on wood floors that are hard to clean up.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the Asian lady beetles were brought to the U.S. in 1916 to help control aphids in pecan orchards. Others report that the lady beetles do not munch on aphids. The lady beetles have also entered the U.S. while hitching a ride on imported plants. But in the end, it doesn’t matter how they got here – they are here and they are a nuisance!
The best advice we can find for getting rid of the Asian lady beetles is to buy a bunch of caulk and caulk every nook and cranny on the doors, windows and anywhere else we think the Asian lady beetles may be coming in. Yeah, right. Another option to get rid of the Asian lady beetles on the outside is to get a hose-end sprayer and spray the sides of your house with a pesticide. This will kill most of them before they can get between the walls. The downside is you have to do it every year. If you don’t like using pesticides, then try spraying the Asian lady beetles off the sides of the house with a water hose. With a larger than normal house and high walls and windows neither of these options is not a possibility for us. The other advice is to simply put up with the Asian lady beetles and vacuum them up every day. And, yes, vacuuming Asian lady beetles is an everyday chore in the fall and winter.
The good news is the Asian lady beetle is just a nuisance to the affected homeowner. Asian lady beetles are not structure-damaging pests, unlike insects such as termites and carpenter ants. Asian lady beetles do not chew or bore holes in walls or eat carpet or furniture. They do not lay their eggs in homes.
As we started researching these “ladybugs” we discovered that they are swarming all over the U.S. And we thought it was just here in the South. But hey, we’re always glad to share with everyone – you know – that great Southern Hospitality and all.