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Ladybug infestation due to weather

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Nov 6, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Though ladybugs might not be the scariest of insects, they’re pests nonetheless and it appears a large population of them has invaded the area.

According to Ruth Correll, Wilson County Ag Extension Director, the Asian Multi-Colored Lady Beetle, or ladybug, is actually a beneficial insect.

Correll said these insects were introduced into the United States as early as 1916 and additional ones were introduced in the 1970s to control the aphid population on pecans.

Aphids are sometimes known as “plant lice” and are small and destructive sap-sucking insects.

Correll said ladybugs are beneficial to us because they eat aphids.

She said the lower the population of aphids, the lower the population of ladybugs becomes, and vice versa.

Weather is also another contributing factor to the ladybug population or infestation.

“The Lady Beetles don’t die when it gets to winter,” Correll said. “But when there are no leaves and plants to host aphids, their food supply goes down and they go dormant.”

Correll said the infestation of ladybugs in homes and indoors is due to the insects looking for a place to live.

“That’s why they’re congregated; they’re looking for shelter,” Correll said.

She said something to note, though, is that ladybugs don’t damage wood.

“They do cause a stain if they’re mashed. They also cause an unpleasant odor if mashed, too,” Correll said. “But it could be worse. It could be where they damaged wood, but they don’t. There are worse insects, so it could be a lot worse.”

Using an insecticide isn’t an effective way to control the ladybug infestation either, according to Correll.

She recommended doing things like vacuuming the home in order to prevent the ladybugs from entering. However, she said to be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag when done.

“If you kill some and the carcasses come off and are left, if you don’t dispose of them that could draw in other insects that feed on insects, so make sure you dispose of the carcasses, too,” Correll said.

She said the ladybugs are most aggravating on log homes or homes with siding, like aluminum siding, because they can get under the siding and it’s hard to seal off log homes.

“They survive in the siding in the winter,” Correll said. “If we have warmer days in winter, where it gets up into the 60s, they’ll come out and try to find food sources. But they may be most aggravating throughout the winter.”

Correll said when spring and warmer weather gets here and the aphids come back out, the ladybugs will begin to leave and go out and find food sources.

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