Ladybugs are really adorable creatures that we all like reminding us of spring and of our childhood. Yet, not many people know that these insects are a valuable link of the environment and represent a natural form of pest control.
Lately people report seeing swarms of ladybugs during fall, which is an unusual time for them. If you are one of them, then you should know that they are not the ladybugs you are familiar with, but are in fact Asian Lady Beetles. These ladybeetles are native to eastern Asia and had been introduced to the states as a biocontrol for aphids. They feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects that dwell on crops and trees, like the soybean crops. So, when the harvest time for soybean crops is over, which occurs in late summer or early fall, these beetles migrate in millions and might visit your home.
Once the late fall comes, the ladybeetles congregate around buildings where they plan to hibernate during winter, and come out in spring. They mostly visit houses near woods and fields and also are being attracted by contrasting shades of light and dark, such as black against a white background.
The first population of the Asian Lady Beetles was released by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1998 as a way to naturally protect the fields and crops from other agricultural pests. They were released in many states like Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California, Maryland, Washington, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi.
According to the beliefs of scientists, the North American infestation is accidental, coming from an Asian Freighter that was offloading freight in New Orleans. They differ in appearance from the ladybugs in color, namely, the shell of the lady beetles is brownish orange, and the ladybugs that we know have vivid-red shell. In addition to this, they are slightly larger and have 4 to 6 spots on their back.
In the illustration of Catherine Song you will see the difference between the Asian Lady Beetles and Ladybugs.
The most important thing is that these insects are not at all harmful for most of the people, and in the smallest percentage of people, the worst-case scenario would be minor allergy symptoms.
But, they have an unpleasant odor, particularly when being smashed, leaving a yellowish fluid behind that can stain surfaces. Have in mind that they multiply really quickly, and if you notice several of them in your home, you should act fast to prevent their infestations.
How to keep Asian Lady Beetles away from your home?
You should protect your house from their entrance and for that purpose seal off any openings and cracks, and repair damaged windows or door screens.
If they somehow enter your home, use a vacuum, or a broom to sweep them away.
Repel them in a natural way by using a homemade peppermint oil spray.
If these beetles visit your garden, then there they are highly welcomed.