Saturday, November 1, 2008

Asian Lady Beetle Invasion Is On Again

The Invasion Is Back

Well it is that time of year again when the dreaded Asian
Lady Beetle's come in with a vengeance to try to hibernate
for the Winter. With the picking of the
corn and soy beans,
the gardens dying off, and the cold weather coming in, along with
it comes these pests.
And they are pests and I for one am so sick of these little devils.
They can get into your houses in the tiniest pin hole or crack.
We have to vacuum them for weeks as they invade the insides
of our homes.
They are dirty leaving a brown sc
um all over everything, and they
stink to high heaven. It is so bad the birds will not eat them. Too
bad or I could bag them up and feed it to them this Winter.
They have become a real nuisance here in Ohio and dearly
love the Hocking Hills area with all of its Pine Trees and farm

Here they are trying to get into my house. They love
getting under the siding of the house for Winter.
This is only a one foot area, now picture this all over the
outside of your house and buildings.
If you have the money you can have an exterminator spray
your house in October to kill them or your can go to your local
chain store and get a jug of "Bug Stop" and spray it all around.
I try so hard to be careful so as n
ot to kill the bees, but I have
noticed that it does not kill Wasps so hopefully it will not hurt
the other beneficial bees and bugs.

Here is some more information on the Asian Lady Beetle
from the Ohio State University Extension Service.

Lady beetles, which are sometimes called ladybugs or lady bird beetles, are familiar insects in many parts of the United States. For the most part, lady beetles are beneficial predators that consume aphids, scale insects, and many other pests that injure plants in our gardens, landscapes, and agricultural settings. Ohio's state insect is a native species, the convergent lady beetle, Hippodamia convergens Guerin.

The multicolored Asian lady beetle is native to Asia, where it is an important predator that feeds on aphids and other soft-bodied insects that dwell in trees. In their native habitat, large aggregations of these lady beetles often hibernate (overwinter) in cracks and crevices within cliff faces. Unfortunately, in the United States where cliffs are not prevalent, they seek overwintering sites in and around buildings.

During the past decade, the multicolored Asian lady beetle has emerged as a seasonal nuisance pest in many regions of our country. It was recognized in Ohio during October 1993, when some residents reported that thousands of lady beetles were congregating on homes and buildings, with many of these insects finding their way indoors. This species is sometimes called the Halloween lady beetle because some adults are a pumpkin yellow-orange color and large populations often occur in late October coinciding with Halloween festivities.

The name "multicolored" refers to the many different color forms of the adult lady beetles. Color variants found in the United States are different shades of yellow, orange, or red, either with or without black spots on the wing covers. Some have 19 black spots while others have faded spots that vary in number and size.

The multicolored Asian lady beetle made its way into the United States through a number of accidental and planned releases. There are several reports that this species was accidentally brought on ships to various ports, notably New Orleans and Seattle. This lady beetle was also intentionally imported from Russia, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere in the Orient and released in the United States as part of a Federal effort to naturally control insect pests in trees. The rationale was that native species of lady beetles are not particularly effective in controlling tree-feeding aphids and scale insects. The Federal releases were made in California as early as 1916 and again in the mid-1960s, but the multicolored Asian lady beetle apparently failed to establish.

During the late 1970s through the early 1980s, tens of thousands of multicolored Asian lady beetles were intentionally released by the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in an effort to control insect pests that injure trees. The USDA-ARS coordinated the lady beetle releases in many southern and eastern states, including Ohio, Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In Ohio, a total of approximately 1,800 lady beetles was released in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties during June 1979 and July 1980. During this period, the largest USDA-ARS releases (more than 11,000 lady beetles) were made in Georgia. In addition, more than 14,000 lady beetles were released in the western United States near Yakima, Washington. Small releases were also made in the District of Columbia and in Nova Scotia, Canada. The USDA-ARS release program was eventually discontinued because failed recapture efforts suggested that the multicolored Asian lady beetle was not surviving in the United States.

Hence, there is some controversy regarding the origins of this nonnative species. Nonetheless, the multicolored Asian lady beetle is now well established in the United States, where it currently thrives in many parts of the Midwest, East, South, and Northwest. This nonnative species appears to be displacing some of our native lady beetles in Ohio.

Nuisances. Homeowners often express concern and aggravation with these nuisance pests. During late autumn, homeowners complain that multicolored Asian lady beetles cluster on the sides of houses; "crunch" under foot; get into food and drinks; alight on hands, arms, and other parts of the body; and sometimes enter the ears and mouth. The lady beetles can be so numerous that they appear to be "raining" outdoors or swarming like bees. A variety of other problems are associated with these lady beetles, as detailed below.

Home Invasion. Unlike our native species of lady beetles, the multicolored Asian lady beetle seeks protected hibernation (overwintering) sites in and around buildings. They may occur in any type of structure. Because these exotic lady beetles readily occur on trees, homes in forested areas are often infested. Multicolored Asian lady beetles often are pests in log homes, because they can slip through the cracks and crevices between the logs.
Multicolored Asian lady beetles seek protected sites where they can hibernate. Some may overwinter underneath siding, roof shingles, landscaping timbers, or leaf litter. Others readily slip through cracks and
crevices and come indoors, where they make themselves at home. They may cluster together in corners of porches, attics, soffits, wall voids, door or window frames, or dark, undisturbed areas within buildings. The beetles can form large, hidden aggregations in secluded dark locations inside homes, commonly in attics and basements. They periodically invade living spaces, apparently in response to the warm interior temperatures. On warm sunny days during the winter, they tend to move about and fly within living spaces. They readily fly to windows. During the spring, these lady beetles are particularly noticeable in houses when they leave their hibernation sites and attempt to make their way outdoors.

Stains and Odor. When lady beetles are disturbed, they defend themselves by exuding a yellow-orange body fluid, which is their blood. This defense mechanism is termed reflex bleeding. The blood has a foul odor and can permanently stain walls, drapes, carpeting, etc. Thus, do not crush or swat lady beetles so as to minimize their defensive behavior.

"Bites." Although an uncommon occurrence, multicolored Asian lady beetles have been reported to nibble, nip, or "bite" humans. These lady beetles are not aggressive toward humans, and they simply may be examining an unfamiliar substrate or they may be seeking moisture.

Their occasional nibbling is not reported to break the skin or draw human blood.

Allergic Reactions. Some individuals report an allergenic response to lady beetles. Although published reports are uncommon, multicolored Asian lady beetles apparently can cause inhalant allergies. These allergies clear up once the lady beetles are removed.
Some people are sensitive or allergic to the fluid that lady beetles secrete, which can cause contact dermatitis and a stinging sensation. However, lady beetles cannot sting, because they do not possess a stinger.


tina said...

They are very pesky. I have them all over the south side of my home coming in through the windows (how they do this I don't know!). It is crazy. I didn't realize they were in Ohio too.

spookydragonfly said...

Hi Lona...great information here! They sure are a nuisance...I haven't seen any yet, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Lona @ Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Tina, sorry to hear that the little buggers are in Georgia too.It just amazes me as to how they can get in buildings and houses.

tina said...

Yes, everywhere. My husband and I watched them crawl up through the weep holes on our windows. Creepy. I am actually in Tennessee. I post with two other folks. One in Georgia (a blogging friend I met on here and in person) and one in Maine (my sister). But I am sure they are hitting there too. Probably not Maine. I was so surprised you are getting them the same time as us. Ohio is just a bit cooler I imagine. They somehow know when to infest. Amazing. Hope you don't mind follow up comments.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Lona!

That is very interesting about the Asian Lady Beetles. We certainly have our fair share of them here in Massachusetts. Late last year when I painted the outside of the house, they were EVERYWHERE. They kept flying right into the paint. They'd stick to it and slide down the clapboards in a gloppy mess. It was awful. I kept having to go back over everything I had painted to brush out the trails they left behind. LOL. They are already in our house for the winter this year. *sigh*

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

I am so sorry about your house painting being messed up. Those nasty little buggers. I am also surprised to hear that they are spreading so far across the states.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Tina, sorry about that. That is what I get for assuming you were in Georgia :-)

Anonymous said...

I'd never seen anything like it until we moved here. However, I was reading the comments about Tina not living in Georgia (LOL) and now I wonder if maybe we had them when we lived in Georgia. I vaguely remember something swarming like that in the high rise we lived in in Hotlanta... something besides the ants. LOL.

Michelle said...

Wow, I never realized what pests those lady beetles could be until Lona brought it to my attention. I've got some of them haning out in my dining room, maybe a dozen beetles, but they are very well behaved. I don't think that they've established themselves as well here in in California.