Ladybugs, also known as lady bird beetles, are charming little beetles well-known to every man, woman, and child. They are synonymous with happiness and have earned themselves the recognition of being made Ohio's official state insect, in a 1975 proclamation, which stated:
"she is proud and friendly, bringing delight to millions of children when she alights on their hand or arm to display her multi-colored wings, and she is extremely industrious and hardy, able to live under the most adverse conditions and yet retain her beauty and charm, while at the same time being of inestimable value to nature."
However, over the past few decades, an aggressive impostor has been making an unpleasant appearance across the nation. The Multicolored Asian Beetle, a non-native insect, whose appearance is similar to the ladybug's appearance, start to swarm in late Summer and early Fall, and can become a real nuisance to homeowners.
Though they look very similar, upon close inspection, you can see that ladybugs are bright red in color with black spots and very little white on their midsections. Conversely, Asian lady beetles may have pale to dark orange coloring with or without dark spots, and a moderate amount of white markings on their midsections. The Asian lady beetles often also have a distinct "M" or "W" marking in black on their middle sections. Perhaps the biggest distinction between the two is that the Asian lady beetle will hibernate for the winter, meaning that an insect infestation in the fall is even more likely to occur. Asian lady beetles will bite humans when distressed, and will also defend themselves when threatened by exuding a yellow-orange body fluid, which is their blood. The blood has a foul odor and can permanently stain walls, drapes, carpeting, etc. Swatting or crushing lady beetles maximizes first-hand experiences with their defensive behaviors.
Asian lady beetles can also damage some fruits and vegetables, particularly raspberries and grapes, but some research has suggested that they might also damage pumpkin crops and apples.
So, what can you do to prepare your home, lawn, and garden for the onslaught of these nasty little beetles? Ohio State University gives the following list for proper beetle prevention, and uses the abbreviation of MALB for Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles:
- MALB can slip through gaps of about 1/8 inch. Seal cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, and other openings. Use weather stripping or a good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Larger gaps can be sealed with urethane foam, glass wool or stainless steel wool, etc.
- Install tight-fitting door sweeps or thresholds at all exterior entry doors. Here's a useful inspection tip to discover worn door sweeps and poorly fitted door jams: turn off outdoor and indoor lights at night and remain indoors while someone shines a flashlight beneath and around doors to reveal gaps.
- Inspect and replace worn garage door seals. Rubber seals work better than vinyl seals in cold weather.
- Attics are a favored MALB overwintering site as well as a route for beetles to enter the living areas of a home. Inspect and repair or replace damaged soffits. Install insect screening (20-mesh maximum) over attic vents and fan exhausts (e.g., kitchen and bathroom) that vent into attics. Fashion insect screening "cages" to fit over can lighting fixtures or other openings into attics.
- Repair or replace damaged or loose-fitting door and window screens.
If you find large quantities of Asian lady beetles in your attic or around your home, avoid squishing them, and consider using a shop vac to suck them all up. The Ohio State University's College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences has put out a fact sheet, which you can view here, with super easy instructions on how to modify a regular vacuum for beetle disposal, without turning the vacuum into a beetle blender.
WeedPro offers a Home Perimeter Pest Spray that can help combat all insects and pests that might think your house looks like a cozy place to hole up as cooler temperatures move in. Please visit our website here for more information on this program. Or click below for our FREE DIY tip sheet on how to keep insects and pests out of your home.