First Sign of Bug Season
~February 22, 2012
Come early March I will be overwhelmed with questions on my website about ladybugs. It was not always so.
As a kid we were told not to harm ladybugs as they did a lot of good in the garden. All of that changed about 10 years ago with the arrival of the Asian Lady Beetle. Imported by well intentioned people, the Asian Lady Beetle was ‘brought in’ in an attempt to use integrated pest management on a rather persistent aphid problem in soy bean crops. These bugs have a voracious appetite for aphids, consuming up to 270 of them in one day.
I am sure that it seemed like a good idea at the time. However, no one thought to check these beetles out to see if they hibernate indoors over winter, multiply in biblical proportions or if they bite. All of which they do.
Warm House = awakening Bugs.
As the temperatures in your home rise and as days grow longer the lady beetles that have hibernated in your home since last fall will awaken. During the day they will move towards the sunshine, that is why you find many of them on window sills this time of year.
Controlling the Asian Lady Beetle is not difficult for the most part. When you see large congregations of them vacuum them up and be sure to clean out your vacuum the same day or they will just crawl out and go back to being a nuisance. Sometimes they smell odd when you vacuum them. This is their natural reaction to being disturbed and the smell will go away.
I do not recommend that you step on them or otherwise squish them as they ooze yellow stuff that smells even worse. Besides, you could end up with a yellow smear on the wall or floor that is not easy to clean up.
Control for lady beetles may be achieved with the use of white powdered silicon dioxide. Green Earth makes a product called Slug and Bug Killer Dust that can be used around pets and children to control many household pests. Apply it on the sills of windows, along the exit through sliding doors and anywhere that they tend to congregate.
One last thing on lady bugs. The Asian variety (Harmonia axyridis) should not be confused with the 3 ‘good guys’ that are native to our land. The 7 Spotted Lady Beetle, Oval Lady Beetles and the Pink Spotted Lady Bug (or C Mac for short) are great friends to the gardener and farmer.
They too will consume nasty bugs like aphids, scale and other sucking insects that otherwise can do a lot of damage.