The Ladybug… or is it the Asian beetle?
Introduction of the Asian Lady Beetle
It seems kind of funny when you look at these harmless looking insects’ knowing that they were actually introduced by the Department of Agriculture into the United States as an agent of biological control. They’re a known predator of scale and aphid insects, and believe it or not, did not even begin overwintering in our area until 1993 despite being introduced in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
So, what happened?
It’s believed that the current influx of Asian lady beetles did not stem from the 1978 and 1981 releases, but an accidental introduction of a new source from an Asian freighter in New Orleans. In 1993 things with the ladybug began spiraling out of control, large numbers of beetles were seen congregating all over man-made structures, with the majority found in and around doorframes, windows, porch decks, attic spaces, crawl spaces, pretty much anywhere they could access. Eventually, this little creature went from being considered a beneficial insect to a rather large nuisance when they started overwhelming Pennsylvania’s homes in the August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, and April months of the year. Yes, you read that correctly, 9 months of the year these things are going to be trying to use YOUR home to survive. That’s not to say that they won’t be around for the other 3 months of the year either, but there’s a lot less activity and usually the rest of the time you’ll find them hanging out in tree’s and bushes of all different varieties.
What Does an Asian Lady Beetle Look Like?
Very similar to a ladybug, Asian Beetles hold a more yellowish to orange color with any number of black polka dots in varying shapes, sizes, and patterns. There are ladybugs & Asian beetles out there with no spots anywhere to be found, and they’ve found bugs that almost look completely black because there are so many on them. All of this is pasted on a small oval body with a concealed head underneath the pronotum (the pronotum is easily identified by the unique black ‘M’ shaped design on top of the creamy or sometimes yellowish color). Ladybugs do not have this “M” shape on their head.
How Long Does an Asian Lady Bug Live?
The egg to adult life cycle is rather short, ranging anywhere from 3 weeks up to a month which is all relevant to the abundance of food and of course the temperatures as well, and each year there will be many generations in the reproductive cycle. Underneath the leaves of plants is where you’ll find the majority of ladybug eggs especially in around low growing ornamentals. High in trees, wheat fields, tobacco & soybean farms, and they love roses too. After eggs have been laid, they’ll take around 4 days to hatch, sometimes five and after hatching the larvae will begin feeding immediately on aphids for the first week, sometimes up to two weeks. After all this, the adult ladybug will emerge and has been known to live for up to and sometimes longer than a year.
There will be no doubt about it, sometime towards the end of September through mid-October.. you know those nice warm days followed by a chilly brisk night by the campfire, right before winter starts to take over? Those cozy nights can turn into nightmares for any homeowner when their houses are infiltrated by these little beetles. They’re attracted to the warmest part of the house, which is always where the house is reflecting the most sunlight and this is where they’ll begin congregating and eventually deciding to take harborage. I kid you not, I have personally been out to quite a few houses where I could have easily taken a shovel and started removing them from the side of the house by the thousands, it gets ridiculous.
How do I remove these beetles from my home?
Well, for a lot of people this is not going to be the answer you wanted… But the best way to get rid of them is to stop them in the first place! Keeping up with home maintenance will help you like crazy, making sure the weather stripping around doors and windows are intact, cracked windows are fixed, the pipes and wires that are entering your home are all sealed off properly (a quality silicone or caulk would be great here). Damaged screen doors should be replaced or repaired, attics and exhaust fans, plumbing vent pipes should all be screened off properly with at least a number 20 screen mesh, of course, you can go smaller too. Spectrum Pest Control offers exterior applications to provide relief of a very large number of these lady beetles (unfortunately, there’s no way to eliminate 100% of them)
So, what do I do if they’re already inside?
Oh boy, now you’re really going to hate me. If they’re already gained access to your attic areas or wall voids you’re in trouble. Treatments on the interior will help, slightly, but unless we’re tearing apart your walls to access your wall voids there isn’t a whole lot of action going to take place. On the opposite end of the spectrum there, if we DID decide to tear into your wall’s to access the wall voids, killing these guys by the thousands could lead to other issues such as carpet beetles. Now instead of dealing with what was just a minor nuisance you’ve caused yourself a carpet beetle infestation that will ultimately lead to them attacking your stored dry food, dog, and cat food, and wool’s too (carpets, clothing, etc)
Do they damage anything?
The funny thing is, they really don’t do much of anything. I guess you could say the biggest thing they damage is the feeling of comfort inside your home, I am always on the receiving end of a frantic phone call with someone screaming about the thousands of these multicolored Asian lady beetles in their home. They don’t really do anything, they are more of a nuisance than anything. Although, they have been known to cause reported allergic reactions to the defensive excretions they’re known to have, nothing crazy has ever been reported. This allergic reaction paired with skin irritations and sinus irritations (known as Rhino conjunctivitis) have also been reported. The biggest piece of advice we can give you is to make sure you’re washing after you’ve come in contact with these lady beetles just to wash away any of the excretions that may be on your skin. Another thing to keep in mind here is, there have been controlled studies that show that the sinus irritations were resolved by simply removing the beetles from the picture.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with a ladybug infiltration, Spectrum Pest Control is a quick phone call away and we are here to help. We will send a state licensed technician out to your house and take help keep your Asian lady beetle numbers down!