Posted by: A Part of the Solution | April 1, 2010

Lady Beetles

Lady beetles.

We have lady beetles. And for those, we have the USDA to thank. They aren’t native lady beetles. They’re Chinese multicolored lady beetles. They were introduced to this country some years ago.

The USDA discovered that these Chinese lady beetles were more efficient than US lady beetles (as many persons have noted regarding the respective human populations). This government agency took action. The foreign lady beetles would eat way more aphids per insect than the US variety. On the surface, no one can argue with fewer aphids.

But their research didn’t cover the collateral effects of having asiatic lady beetles in North America. Shortly after their introduction, and after they had begun to spread, it was found that the chinese lady beetles are partial to orchard fruit. In fact, they are now rated a significant pest in most states where orcharding is a substantial agricultural pursuit. This is bad, certainly.

Up and down the mid-Atlantic region, these lady beetles infest homes from October when the weather begins to cool through April when it warms again. I can’t speak for other parts of the country (not having seen for myself). They are prevalent in the more rural parts of this area. And they’re in my new home, which is the site of my Bed and Breakfast.

I read up on them on the internet. Vacuuming them up and emptying them out into the world is held to be the best method of dealing with this particular infestation. I was already doing just that.

I vacuum up lady beetles several hours a day. I have a dustbuster. I have a canister vacuum cleaner, left by the former owners and still serviceable. And I have a hurricane grade upright that will suck the chrome off a trailer-hitch. I use them all. And they all do what they ought.

But these lady beetles are crafty. They are cunning. They hide in the crevices of the window fixtures. They creep into the cracks between my ancient pine heartwood flooring. They lurk behind large pieces of furniture. They don’t want to join their brethren and sistren in the great outdoors–or they wouldn’t hide so persistently.

And they have a Hitchcockian effect on the decor. Everything looks solidly Americana throughout the home. Then one notices the lady beetles clustered in corners and flecked across the ceiling and wiggling their little legs where they’ve fallen to the floor on their backs. It’s a little creepy. But only a little.

I should be grateful that they’re not mosquitos. I should be on my knees in gratitude that they aren’t cock-a-roaches. I should be burning incense and candles that they aren’t wasps or termites. I try hard to look on the bright side.

But I have to say I wish the USDA had thought a little more carefully before going ahead on this one. Lady beetles are kind of cute. Right up until there are thousands upon thousands of them. Every. Single. Day.

I’ve been assured their season indoors is almost over. How glad am I?

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Responses

  1. Paul suggests emptying the vac canister into a bucket of soapy water…go the extra mile and exterminate them. They are a non-indigenous horde. Give no quarter. Have no remorse.

  2. We had them too- TONS of them and they are a nuisance in the house but they are so good for the garden. In fact, my mom ordered more ladybugs to set free in our greenhouse when it got infested with a type of larva which they eat. Learn to love them.


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