Mixed Blessing

ladybug

Meet the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle.

Ranging in color from yellow-orange to red, with a variety of black spots, these tiny buggers are about 1/3 inch long with a domed body.

Their origin is questionable. Some say they were imported from — where else? Asia — after they were discovered to snuff out plant pests like aphids. Others say they came all on their own and migrated across the U.S. and Canada.

Regardless, they do their job well. They don’t sting, carry diseases, or do structural damage to buildings. They don’t harm people or pets.

But they breed. Extensively. And they seem to find comfort in large groups.

“Ladybugs” turn into the bane of our existence as a warm fall changes to a cold winter.

Sure, they’re cute. But outside bugs should stay outside!

Instead, “ladies” have learned that homes, office buildings, churches, and so forth are typically warm even during the winter, and warmth is what they want.

So they’ll circle the outsides of windows and doors, soaking up a late afternoon’s sun. Ever vigilant, ever hopeful, they wait. And when you least expect it, they’ll s-q-u-e-e-z-e their speckled bodies into the teeniest of crevices, planning to hibernate peacefully inside with the occupants until Spring.

Well, sort of.

If spooked, they spread their wings and fly. Perhaps right at you.

They’re not too proud to hitchhike a ride inside on your clothing. Or the family pet.

And they have an interesting — yet nasty — defensive method for when they get scared. They “bleed” a smelly yellow juice from their legs. Of course, this reflex prevents birds from bothering them, but you can imagine how disgusting (and staining) it is on clothes hung outside to dry. Or on upholstered chairs indoors.

I remember one warm fall, when I was hanging Christmas lights early, and the “ladies” were swarming so thickly around my head that I had to step off the ladder and shoo them away.

Now you’d think they’d be happy once inside. After all, that’s where they wanted to be.

But no.

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles spend their winters going ’round and ’round the edges of windows — perhaps to get out? And if you “help” them outside, they realize it’s cold, so they search for a way back in.

A continuous cycle.

Last winter I watched a couple of them circle inside a sunny window, never bothering anybody, constantly running like hamsters in a wheel.

Yes, they can be a nuisance, but I don’t have the heart to kill one.

Hurt no living thing:
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty wing.
~Christina Georgina Rossetti

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32 thoughts on “Mixed Blessing

  1. Ugh! Interesting stuff, but I’m afraid pretty much all insects really make me quiver. I’m so glad I live in a cold climate. We do get ladybirds (as we call them) but not to the same extent and I’ve never had one indoors. I don’t know how they deal with the cold winter here. Perhaps they migrate or hibernate…

    • You must be sending them over the pond! We have way more than one would think necessary (though I don’t farm, so perhaps those folks are happy the buggers are around!) As a dog owner, I pray for a winter cold enough to kill all the critters — like fleas! Oh, and snakes. For sure, I don’t want to have to hoe any more of those beasts down, ha!

  2. I’m sure there’s a metaphor for life in this….the going around and around in circles – the legs bleeding a smelly, yellow juice from one’s legs to keep pests at bay???? You are kind hearted to keep circling with them.

    • Thanks, Barb. I’m not so much kind-hearted as reluctant to endure that stench from their tiny legs!! It’s really easier to slide them onto a scrap of paper and toss them outside (though I wonder how many eventually find their way back in?) Perhaps they’re trying to show us the value of persistence?!!

  3. We don’t have nearly that many. At least, I’ve never seen them. I did give 5,000 of them to a friend’s father for his birthday, once. He grew roses, and we have aphids, and he was mightily appreciative. Here’s the trick. When you have 5,000 ladybugs, you put some of them on your roses, and the rest in the fridge. They think it’s winter for sure, and go dormant. When you need more on your roses, take another few hundred out, take them outdoors, and let them warm up.

    Do not give 5,000 ladybugs to someone who doesn’t grow roses.

    • I got such a kick out of this story, Linda! Five thousand ladybugs, huh?? Well, I imagine that many would do the trick. Not so sure about putting hundreds of them on cold storage though. By the way, how did you capture (and count!) 5,000 ladybugs?? The little buggers are FAST crawlers!!

  4. Growing up in New York, I’d see a lot of Lady Bugs. Funny, I hated bugs except for two kinds: Fireflies and Lady Bugs. I guess butterflies fall into this somewhere. Anyway, I don’t think I thought of them as insects, but rather, something beautiful to behold. Anyway, here in Southern California I never see fireflies and Lady Bugs seem to be few and far between. One year, though, I did see a migration of the Monarch butterfly. Came right San Diego, heading for Mexico, in droves. A sight to behold!

    • “Cheeky” is a good word to describe them, Lucy! When I was trying to get a photo of this little bugger, he (or she) kept running in circles as fast as its little legs would spin, making focusing the camera a real challenge. Why, I could almost hear him (or her) saying, Snap me if you can!!

  5. Lady Bug’s. I now know a lot more about them. Thank you. I think. I love that poem but please don’t be offended when I tell you that (despite your big heart) I did not immediately connect it with the golf swinging, hoe down,blogger that writes on these pages. Lady Bugs are cute in moderation.

    • Ha! I’m so glad my Irish warrior persona comes through, Kb! I think the reason I don’t mess with ladybugs is that they’re relatively helpless — except for the stinky yellow juice. Not like a screeching bat. Or a snake that sticks its tongue out at me! You’re right, you know — moderation is key, and we’ve had way more than moderation of late!

    • Great point, Professor! I wonder how they get it to squish out?? On second thought, nah, I don’t really want to know that much about them! But as Lucy said, they’re “cheeky.” They’ve got a BIG attitude for such a teeny body. Real fighters, I’m thinking.

  6. I never knew all this about ladybugs. They aren’t that common in sizzling from what I’ve seen. I’ve just seen one or two here and there and thought they were cute. Now lizards on the other hand…. I relocated three of them outside. Sadly, the cats had found 2 of them first :(

    • Glad to be of help, Janna. Perhaps they don’t like your climate…or maybe you just don’t have the critters ladybugs like to feed on. Ordinarily, I don’t mind them much; but on warm, sunny days when they’re swarming and trying to get inside, not so. I’m glad to leave the lizzies to you — good thing your kitties found some play-toys, ha!!

  7. Funny. This makes me realize that I haven’t seen many of them around our house this fall. Neither have a seen the abundance of Boxelder bugs that usually make me so crazy. Maybe our weather has been too nice yet for them to start scrambling inside. I won’t complain if they stay outside where they belong, but I won’t get my hopes up!

    • What, you sent them all to us?!! Don’t fret, Terri, I’m sure they’ll become noticeable once the weather turns. I don’t think I’ve seen any Boxelder bugs. The ones I don’t like are green and kite-shaped — and they stink! I don’t know what they are, but they can go away any time, ha!

  8. What an interesting post, Debbie! I honestly thought that once the summer was over, ladybugs just disappeared because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one outside once it got colder.

    I’ve always loved Ladybugs, though. I think they’re so cute-looking, with their red wings and black polka-dots.

    Hope you had a super weekend, my friend, and are enjoying autumn. It finally got cold here over the weekend, so it FEELS like autumn. Yahoooooooooo!

    X

    • I’ve seen them inside a sunny window, even in the winter, going round and round. I assume they want back outside and help them, but often, they beat me back in! I guess they just want to be warm.

      Glad you’ve gotten a taste of fall, my friend — isn’t it wonderful?!! Such a pretty time of year — very few wicked storms and color galore!

      Thanks for dropping by, and enjoy your week, Ron!

  9. Debbie, I love ladybugs! In Spanish they are called “mariquitas” and Roxy, Olivia and I see a multitude this summer in Spain. They are so beautiful! My nana used to say that if one landed on you, it was a sign that good things were about to happen! :)

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