ladybug invasion begins...(article)

Ladybugs: helpful, sometimes pesky
October 2, 2005
By Madeline Bodin
Who loves a ladybug? Until recently, everyone did. These tiny beetles gobble aphids and other soft-bodied insects that plague crops and ornamental plants.
It is said that their name refers to the Virgin Mary, to whom our European ancestors gave thanks for the beetles that saved their crops. They are also called lady beetles. In Britain, they are called ladybirds or ladybird beetles. For centuries, they were thought of as bearers of good luck. In Iran, they are called "good news." As far as we know, the name has nothing to do with feminine characteristics. There are, indeed, gentleman ladybugs. Ladybugs share a basic body plan with their fellow beetles, which includes the wings that let them "fly away home." It's the hard forewings that give a ladybug its shell-like covering. The large, membranous hindwings underneath unfold and are used for flying.
The high-water mark for ladybug love may very well have been in 1977, when the New Hampshire Legislature named the two-spotted ladybug as that state's official insect. (Massachusetts, Ohio and Tennessee had already made ladybugs their state insects.) In 1989, New York designated the widespread and common nine-spotted ladybug as its state insect.
There are some 450 native species of ladybug in North America and several thousand species in the world. New Hampshire has about 60 native species within its borders, and Vermont has about 40. Almost every one of those species is a beneficial insect, eating plant pests that we might otherwise use chemicals to kill.
But sometime in the 1990s, the worm, or maybe in this case the larva, began to turn. (Ladybug larvae are spiky-looking things, often equal in size to mom and dad.) Ladybugs have always overwintered as adults in large groups, sometimes even in people's houses.
As the 1990s went on, more and more people in the eastern, mid-western, and northwestern United States were complaining about hundreds or thousands of ladybugs entering their homes in the fall.
While the two-spotted, native ladybug had always done this to some extent, the new culprit was the multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis), also known as the Halloween ladybug. This ladybug is a tree-dweller, originally from Asia, and it comes in a variety of shades, from yellow to orange to red.
This ladybug had been intentionally released time and again - in Georgia, Ohio and Washington - throughout the 1970s as a natural predator of crop pests. When few of these ladybugs were recaptured, it was thought they were dying out. Instead, they had just flown away to new homes. The good news is that these ladybugs did such a number on the pecan aphids in Georgia that chemical pesticides are no longer used for aphids there. The bad news is that every fall, Halloween ladybugs find their way into American homes, sometimes in horror-movie-like numbers.
Ladybugs don't eat while inside your house, and they don't reproduce there. They are just seeking a warm place for the winter, which may be a small solace when you find one doing the backstroke in your coffee.
The bugs can be kept out by tightly sealing your house, including putting screens over all roof, attic and wall vents. If they are already inside, ladybugs can be sucked up with a vacuum cleaner that has a nylon stocking inserted into the extension wand. The ladybugs that get in your house are usually non-native and, quite obviously, overabundant, so do with them what you will.
Just don't crush them. They stain. And don't eat them.
"They taste horrible, which is part of their natural defense and why many of them are brightly colored - an example of aposomatic (warning) coloration," says John Weaver, who, as an entomologist with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, I trust did not arrive at this knowledge through his own experience.
He says that wine makers have found that when Halloween ladybugs get harvested with the grapes, the crushed beetles taste so bad that they can ruin the wine.
We won't be rid of the Halloween ladybug any time soon, but we may have learned our lesson. Weaver reports that "the U.S. Department of Agriculture seems to have adopted new guidelines in selecting lady beetles for introduction, selecting species that are specialized predators and not selecting species that are generalized predators."
Introduced ladybug species don't just bug humans. They have an impact on other ladybugs as well. New York hasn't seen its state insect - the nine-spotted - in years.
It's believed that a different introduced species, the seven-spotted ladybug, may have done it in either by eating it or by out competing it.
It's a little harder to love a ladybug these days, but it's a little harder to be one, too.
END
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I hate the things! They have not yet shown up this year but in previous years they have made using my front porch and yard impossible. The swarming around is bad enough but they also bite. No one wants to use the front door! It is still too early here for their invasion but in that past five years they've never failed to arrive in HUGE numbers.

This year I plan to have a profession exterminator spray the outside of the house and yard for these pests. I would have much rather have had the chemical pesticides used in the fields versus my home and yard. .

While vacuuming inside is doable, outside is another story. It's like trying to drain Lake Erie with a teaspoon.

The jerks that introduced these obnoxious pests should be sentenced to live in my home during the "ladybug season". Better yet, just dump a few thousand in their homes and see how they like it.

There is nothing to love about these pests! I hope the exterminator eliminates them but they are so numerous here that I'm very discouraged.

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I'm so depressed. I don't know what to do except pray they arent as bad this winter (for the next six months). Last year I swear everyday I must have vacuumed at least two hundred everyday. I'm going to go bonkers if I have to do it again this year. I've called the exterminaters and none of them can give a guarantee, at Home Depot they told me there was nothing I could do about them and actually told me it was good to have them in my house because they eat aphids. Well, thats a really small consolation. This year I might plastic the windows. Ladybugs are a disgusting nuisance. They smell like mildew and sting. At night when I'm trying to sleep I can hear them knocking themselves about the ceiling with their hard shells. I don't know what I'm going to do really, I think I'm going to go insane within the next six months.
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The only time I experienced a nuisance invasion they were restricted to a living room picture window & easily managed. Their reputation for biting is something that doesn't happen here; they're about as harmless as anything can be. I delight in them & happy that they help keep toxic chemicals unnecessary in the garden. I sometimes suspect they only become bests in seriously "unbalanced" areas where the whole neighborhood's use of every possible blend of pesticides has destroyed any hope of a healthful environment with a useful balance of insect life.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
http://www.paghat.com/giftshop.html
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look like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. One afternoon last fall I became so incensed I was running around the front porch and also climbed out a window onto the porch roof with several cans of Raid muttering profanity and trying in vain to kill everyone of the blasted things I could. If anyone had seen me they would have sworn I was insane and at that moment they would have been right. Whoever pens those inane article about vacuuming them just does not understand the magnitude of the problem.
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No idea about this but perhaps you can catch more insects with honey then with poisons. Maybe a trap could help? Would have to be large and warm and ???
Consider the alternative Flame Throwers.
Bill
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Garden Shade Zone 5 S Jersey USA in a Japanese Jungle Manner.39.6376 -75.0208
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I like the flame throwers idea!
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snipped-for-privacy@somewhere.net says... :) This year I plan to have a profession exterminator spray the outside of the :) house and yard for these pests. I would have much rather have had the :) chemical pesticides used in the fields versus my home and yard. If he times it right with a pyrethroid you may see good results by way of fewer insects. :) > The bugs can be kept out by tightly sealing your house, including :) > putting screens over all roof, attic and wall vents. If they are :) > already inside, ladybugs can be sucked up with a vacuum cleaner that :) > has a nylon stocking inserted into the extension wand. The ladybugs :) > that get in your house are usually non-native and, quite obviously, :) > overabundant, so do with them what you will. :) :) While vacuuming inside is doable, outside is another story. It's like :) trying to drain Lake Erie with a teaspoon. Always use the stocking trick with the vacuum...the odor will be smelled every usage when they get inside the unit.
--
Lar

to email....get rid of the BUGS
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angelpet Wrote:

Madeline, I found your article interesting and informed and would lik your permission to reprint it on my gardening website - a simila article entitled 'Ladybugs, Ladybugs, Come to My Garden' already exists on my site. T view how your article might look, vist the site a http://tinyurl.com/dsozr
Contact me with your 'About the author' and website link info if yo are interested. Email me at lavbee(at)handales.com ... Change the (at to
-- LavenderBee
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Ladybug infestations are only to be outdone by boxelder bug invasions and we had them both at the same time every fall. When the ladybugs got into the house they communed in a tight wad at the very peak of our vaulted ceiling, a harmless but unsightly writhing mass that was impossible to remove. Keeping screens tight and doors shut was the best defense but they still got in by clinging to our clothing as we had to negotiate the flying swarms to walk to the house. The garage attic became a graveyard for both critters as they found their way in but never got out. We swept out thousands. Even without squishing them they left stains on the windowsills and woodwork that was difficult to remove. I will not soon forget the sight of the redwood trees coming alive as millions of boxelder bugs burrowed and crawled through cracks in the bark.
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Well, MY ladybugs don't stay in the attic, we checked last year. They definately like human company in my house, they are particularily fond of our screen doors and kitchen windows. They also my livingroom windows and familyroom windows, and they LOVE hanging out in the bathrooms. The only windows and rooms they dont like are my master bedroom (THANK GOD), and the computer room (THANK GOD). Like I said in an earlier post, I plan on plasticing my windows after Thanksgiving. Hopefully it is not as bad this year as last year, I vacuumed twice a day everyday for six months no exageration(sp?).
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BTW, Boxelder Bug sounds scary.
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