November 15, 2005

"They are making me crazy. They have ruined my life."

It's those terrible not-ladybugs. Remember when you were all ooh! cute! ladybugs!? We know so much better now:
Unlike domestic ladybugs, the multicolored Asian variety likes to keep its polka dots indoors in the winter. In older rural neighborhoods, where houses are not knit tight, only insecticide can hope to keep them out. They swarm by the tens of thousands. Unlike the domestic ladybug, the Asian variety leaves a yellow stain. It can bite. Worst of all, it stinks.

As Michael F. Potter, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, explained: "When the beetles are handled or disturbed in any way, they emit this yellow substance from their leg. It's lady-bird blood. It has a noxious odor."

Or, as Lorene Bowling of Olive Hill, Ky., put it, "They stink something terrible."...

Ruth Hopkins, who lives in Mount Vernon, about 40 miles from Lexington, said she got up several times every night last winter to get her hand-held vacuum and sweep the bugs off the sheets and off her ailing 89-year-old husband.

"I would just take that sweeper and sweep all night," said Mrs. Hopkins, whose home is near the Daniel Boone National Forest. "All winter long, we got no rest. They would drop off the ceiling everywhere."
We have them in Wisconsin, but not anywhere near that bad. They seem to be energized by a warm day after it's been cold, on certain days in the fall and spring. I guess in the south, there are days like that all winter. I suppose with the onset of global warming, we'll be seeing more of these horrible bugs. Is there any solution other than insecticide?
In Asia, the bugs do not winter in dwellings, but land on tall, light-colored rocks and find their way into warm, damp recesses in the stone. When the beetles got to the United States, the white vinyl siding on small buildings and granite or light stone walls on larger ones may have beckoned the same way their native rocks had.

So, usually on warm, sunny autumn afternoons after a hard frost, beetles light on the western and southwestern sides of buildings, favoring light-colored buildings over dark ones, and showing a particular affinity for surfaces with contrasting dark vertical lines - like vinyl siding. When they crawl around in search of warm recesses, they end up inside, in light fixtures or attics for the winter.
I'm going to take that into account the next time I have my house painted. I want to know how dark I need to go to make my house not remind them of a rock in China. The poor darlings are just homesick.

UPDATE: Wouldn't mosquito netting work better than a DustBuster? I'm really disturbed by the idea of repeatedly vaccuuming a sick, old man.


goesh said...

- the little devils can also bite, or at least the ones around here do

Matt Brown said...

Pesky, biting insects should never be called "little darlings."

Matt Brown said...

Or "poor darlings," either.

PatCA said...

"A few words must be said in the Asian lady beetles' defense."


I think what we have here is another enviro vs. human situation. In CA mountain lions and coyotes regularly kill pets (and a few humans) yet we have to put up with it to protect the species, whose city population is now in the thousands, and because we "took their habitat."

We are overrun with ants, who invade our homes like these beetles, and we hoard any effective pesticide that comes along because we know that if it works it will be soon banned.

I feel for these people. We seem to have lost sight of reasonableness in managing the environment.

Paul said...

If I reach the point of having to be vacuumed, call Dr. Kevorkian. Or at leaset, please do buy some netting.

Eli Blake said...

is there a better solution than insecticide?

Boots work.