As our evenings grow colder, it’s time for East-Tennesseans to start thinking about ladybugs (or Asian lady beetles). These pests enter homes during the fall and then emerge when the days get warmer. The trouble is that they sometimes get lost and enter the home instead of heading back outside—much to the dismay of their surprised hosts!
Although they’re frustrating, these bright little bugs prey on some of the most destructive plant pests. In fact, the USDA has released loads of them onto crops that were endangered by pests (which partially explains why ladybugs invade houses so often now: their numbers have been artificially inflated). Still, Asian lady beetles may be the hero of the garden, but they’re less welcome inside. Finding bugs all over the house is generally upsetting, but these also produce yellow ooze when threatened (or smashed) that stains, and, although it’s hard to believe, they can actually deliver a painful bite!
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, exclusion is always the best place to start with pest management. Ladybugs choose a structure for overwintering and then start to search for cracks or crevices. If your home is well-sealed, the beetles will be forced to move on. Screens in attic and roof vents should be carefully checked since ladybugs find the high points of two-story buildings appealing and often enter homes through attics. Are there cracks in your siding? Openings underneath your doors? Holes around your plumbing connections? These are all situations that ladybugs will exploit.
Don’t forget: If we’re getting consistent frosts at night, it’s too late to act. The ladybugs are already inside, so the best thing you can do is get a vacuum with a hose attachment ready. Vacuuming up ladybugs and taking the bags outside is the best way to get rid of the ones that are inside, even though the smell won’t be good. If ladybugs are in the house, DO NOT find an exterminator to treat your attic or wall voids. Killing the bugs inside does you no good because the smell will be terrible, and the dead bugs will create a food source for other, more offensive pests. If you want to have a pest control treatment for ladybugs, hire a professional before the frosts set in and save yourself a lot of hassle.