Since a very young age, we find ladybugs adorable. They are universally beloved, but these little red bugs are also a natural form of pest control.
However, people have recently noticed swarms of ladybugs amassing in the fall, which is a rather strange time for it.
If you have seen them too, you should know that they may actually be Asian Lady Beetles, native to eastern Asia, that had been introduced to the U.S. as a biocontrol for aphids.
In the late fall, these insects tend to congregate around buildings, in an attempt to spend the winter, and wait for the spring to come out of hibernation.
They prefer houses near woods and fields and are attracted by contrasting shades of light and dark, like black against a white background.
The beetles feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects that dwell on crops and trees, such as soybean crops. When the soybean crops get harvested in late summer or early fall, these insects migrate in millions and might visit your home.
In 1998, the first population of the beetles was released by the United States Department of Agriculture to help protect fields and crops from other agricultural pests, primarily in South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California, Maryland, and Washington.
Yet, scientists suspect that the North American infestation is accidental, resulting from an Asian Freighter that was offloading freight in New Orleans.
The following illustration by Catherine Song explains the difference between them and ladybugs:
These insects are not harmful to us, their bites are nothing to worry about, and the worst-case scenario is that their infestations can sometimes lead to allergy symptoms.
Yet, they have an unpleasant odor, especially when smashed and leave a yellowish fluid behind, which can stain surfaces.
In comparison to the vivid-red shell of ladybugs, the color of the lady beetles is brownish orange. They are also slightly larger and have 4-6 spots on their back.
They multiply very quickly, so in case you notice several of them in your home, prepare to act fast.
Follow these tips to keep Asian Lady Beetles away from your home:
- Seal off any openings and cracks, and repair damaged windows or door screens in the house to prevent them from entering your home
- If they manage to get inside, use a vacuum, or a broom to sweep them away.
- Make a homemade peppermint oil spray to repel them
While they are undesired guests in your home, you can freely welcome lady beetles into your garden, where they will be highly beneficial!