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Williams: Ladybugs: Beautiful but unwanted guests

Posted: November 8, 2017 - 2:53am
Lady bugs are seen as being beneficial to the environment because they eat other insects.
Lady bugs are seen as being beneficial to the environment because they eat other insects.

Lady beetles, also known as "ladybugs" or "ladybird beetles," are familiar insects. They are considered beneficial insects to the environment because they eat other insects. However, in some places, ladybugs can become so numerous they become a nuisance. During this time of year, ladybugs start infiltrating the home in search of a place to overwinter. Large numbers of ladybugs that gather all over the house are not beneficial, especially when they start falling everywhere - onto food, the bed, or you.

Many ladybugs have been introduced into the environment in large numbers due to the fact they are beneficial to the environment. They eat aphids, mites, scales, whitefly, mealybugs and other soft insects that are pests. They don't carry disease or sting. However, they can bite if handled too long. Ladybugs multiply rapidly; female ladybugs may lay from 20 to more than 1,000 eggs over a one- to three-month period. Ladybugs overwinter as adults. They prefer aggregations along hedgerows, beneath leaf litter, under rocks and bark, and in other protected places, including buildings. Ladybugs release pheromones to communicate with other ladybugs. This communication can be for breeding or hibernation. Ladybugs are really only a pest by their presence. They do not feed on or damage anything in the home.

The best advice to avoid ladybugs staying over for the winter is to try to keep them outside. Turn off lights near the doors and entrances. Do not leave doors or windows open. Ensure all cracks around windows, doors, clap boards and pipes are sealed. Ladybugs do not typically breed indoors; their number inside increases usually due to openings not being sealed. To stop them from penetrating your home, there are insecticides that work well. Pyrethroids (Bifenthrin/ Cypermethrin-Ortho Home Defense Max) is a great choice. In the concentrations used for control, they also have insect repellent properties. Cypermethrin is a pyrethroid that seems to provide control for long periods of time. During the fall, apply this spray on the south and west sides of house. The south and west sides are the most likely sides for ladybug invasion because they are typically the warmest due to sunset. During the fall, ladybugs begin coming indoors to find a warm place to overwinter. Cypermethrin will provide both a fast kill, along with residual protection. Insecticidal soap is another option for a fast kill, but it does not provide residual protection. This means new ladybugs will not be affected by the application within a day of treatment. Insecticidal soap will require repeated application; therefore, it is not recommended.

If a few ladybugs become trapped inside, simply pick them up and return them outside. However, sometimes they become so numerous that simply returning them outside seems impossible. To remove numerous ladybugs from your home, use a shop vacuum. This type of vacuum is easy to use for collecting ladybugs. It is best to line the shop vacuum with a new bag or pad the bottom of the vacuum container with a cloth. This will allow for easy containment and return of the ladybugs outside. Prompt return outside is key because they can crawl out of the bags or vacuum canister. Light traps may also prove useful if removal proves difficult, especially in dark, confined spaces. Ladybugs, as well as flies, are attracted to the light and heat sources. Do not smash the ladybugs to remove them. Ladybugs have a foul smell if they are smashed.

You may never rid your home completely of ladybugs, but you can reduce their numbers and make your home more livable.

Unfortunately, there is no "quick fix" or easy answer to annual ladybug invasions. Sealing openings, insecticide applications and vacuuming are the best defenses to unwanted ladybug guests.

 

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