HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – Fall can mean cooler temperatures and falling leaves, but it can also mean one has to keep an eye open for an unwanted guest inside a structure: Asian Lady Beetles.
Brian Ranes is an Entomologist, and he says Asian Lady Beetles came from Asia and other continents that have migrated or have been introduced to the United States. Some was part of a government program where they would be released for control of aphids on crops and people could buy them by the pound for a non-pesticide control method, but because they have been accidentally brought over onto ships and cargo over the years, they have grown out of control and now create a problem in the fall when they enter homes for the winter.
Ranes also says telling the difference between a normal ladybug and an Asian Lady Beetles isn’t so easy.
“There are about 18 different species,” he explained. “Some of them create a problem, more like the spotted ladybugs. They are more bright orange or reddish in color. They have more spots than the usual ladybug. They are very difficult to tell apart. The difference is in the spots. Some of the lady bugs don’t have spots. If you look at a cluster of ladybugs, that are in an attic or wall void or a fireplace, there will be different species mixing together because they give off a similar pheromone which attracts them to each other called a gathering pheromone.”
Ranes said these beetles are considered pests because the beetles decided homes are just as good as trees, firewood piles, rock piles and behind siding.
“A pest is described as anything that is annoying to a human,” he said. “Even if they have beneficial aspects, they can be a pest because they come into our homes usually late in fall when it starts to get cooler. That’s when people start seeing them in their homes, especially if they are on a southern exposure which gets direct sunlight. That’s when people see them, so they become annoying to humans by the sheer number.”
It also isn’t just housing that people have seen Asian Lady Beetles, Ranes said they have been seen in commercial buildings, baby food manufacturing, medical and office facilities.
“We see them in homes most often because the homeowner is more likely to do something about them on a regular basis,” he said. “Just about any building that has gaps and cracks around the outside windows or eves, roof ventilation, fireplaces, chimneys, flutes, very accessible into the buildings.”
Ranes said over the years, the cases of Asian Lady Beetles have gotten worse partly because stinkbugs have overshadowed them a bit even if Asian Lady Beetles only live about one year.
If one does have Asian Lady Beetles, Ranes explained the best way to get rid of them is to vacuum them up.
“They do give off a smell when that happens,” he said. “I do recommend removing the bag or cleaning a canister whenever you’re done. Once they’re in, spraying them isn’t as effective because if they’re in, most likely, they’ll already die banging themselves into windows and lights and creating stress.”
Keeping them out is the best preventive measure, and Ranes explains how to do that.
“One of the best ways is to go outside on a warm day in winter because they will get confused and think it’s spring and start flying around the areas that they enter,” he said. “Go outside, see if you have any flying around, and try to observe where they’re getting in. Usually, a crack in the foundation or a fireplace, windows or doors, somewhere where they’re getting in and seal that up. It may not prevent them from entering the structure that year, but it will the next year. It may take a couple of years for that to wear off because if they can still detect that pheromone, that pheromone is very strong, it can last for a few years.”