Dear Home Ec 101,
Every year my home is filled with ladybugs. Well, I’m not really sure if they are even ladybugs, but they sure look like them. Could they be ladybirds? Whatever they are, I want them out of my house. How do I get rid of the infestation?
Crawling in Crawford
You are right, these are not actual ladybugs, they are an exotic invasive species commonly known as Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles. I’m sure you are beside yourself with excitement to know the correct name, but that doesn’t get them out of the house, does it?
Would you believe these annoying critters were intentionally released by the Federal government in an attempt to control aphids? There is some debate about this, as the program was discontinued when efforts to recapture the beetles failed, implying the program was a failure.
Typically these creatures swarm in the fall as they are looking for suitable areas to overwinter. The good news is that while they are annoying they aren’t actually causing any damage other than the small stains they leave when startled. They do not eat building materials and they aren’t going to be laying eggs in your home. They save doing that for the spring. Don’t you feel better? I do.
There have been reports of the insects biting and from personal experience I have been nipped in Minnesota where they are very common than my current home. They do not break the skin.
There isn’t a whole lot to be done on the natural side of the equation, but the most effective has the added bonus of making a home more energy efficient. Fill in any gaps in the home’s exterior, remember if the bugs can get in, heat can escape. These pesky creatures only need a gap of 1/8th an inch to enter; once inside they use pheromones to invite all their buddies to the party. Additionally, attic vents should be covered with an insect proof mesh which will allow the inflow and exhaust of air, but the bugs won’t use this as a super highway into the home.
If the bugs are already inside, there isn’t a whole lot you can do except suck up the lil twerps with a shop vac. A handy trick is to take an old pair of nylons, ask before you grab mom’s. Put the toe of the nylon down the tube, cut the leg off near the knee and secure the hose over the nozzle with a rubber band. Voila! You’ve made an instant bug bag. After using the shop vac to suck up the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles, use the rubber band to fasten the bag closed and dispose of the insect vermin.
Just as an FYI do not bother spraying vegetation around a home with pesticide, the bugs aren’t interested in the plants, they only come inside looking for a cozy place to chill. They aren’t interested in your hostas. If you want to use pesticide, you need to use it on the building itself and it needs to be sprayed just before their usual swarming time.