Ladybugs

It’s finally started — the Influx of the Ladybugs!

These small, (usually) polka-dotted, reddish-orange beetles are swarming all over the Midwest at this time of year. Farmers and gardeners love them because they feed on aphids and other insects that destroy plants and crops. Kids love to watch them scurry around, climbing up and down windows and bricks (especially the ones on the warm, southwestern sides of buildings).

But they’re everywhere!

Before I get too far into ranting, I’d better make a distinction. The ladybug native to U.S. soils is rather cute, as evidenced by the fact that one national sorority I know of selected it as its special symbol. It’s the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle that’s wearing on my last nerve. I’m told it was imported into this country almost a century ago to help farmers control pest populations naturally.

Today, they’re everywhere!

They slip into warm houses, looking for a place to hibernate over the winter. They come in on your clothing, sneak into your garage on your car, and even attach themselves to dog fur and ride Fido in.

Once in, count on them to stay in. If you try to scoop them up, they “play dead,” squirting out a stinky yellowish substance The Ladybug Lady says is blood from their legs. If you leave them be, they’ll periodically take flight and zip to another, usually warmer, location. The best way to keep them out is to caulk and repair even the tiniest of cracks in windows and door trim; once they’re in, you can suck them up with a shop vac and release them outside — just know they’ll probably find their way back!

And they’re everywhere!

Fortunately, they’re not poisonous to humans. However, the Asian variety is said to be more aggressive, and I believe it. If one lands on you, send it on its merry way or be prepared for a bite, which feels like a tiny sting. Also, I find their scurrying little legs feel irritating when they land on bare skin!

The Ladybug Lady says that dry indoor heat usually does them in, but occasionally, one will survive the entire season, only to fly off when spring arrives. That’s a long time to live with bugs in your house!

And remember, they’re everywhere!