Indoor beetles

first_imgLady beetles have long been viewed as good bugs. Most peoplearen’t scared of them, and very few want to kill them with insectspray. But that’s quickly changing.Each winter, more and more Asian lady beetles, often calledladybugs, travel into homes seeking shelter from the cold. Cuteor not, these uninvited houseguests are outstaying their welcomeand ruining their reputations to boot.Asian lady beetles are one of several species in Georgia. Butthey’re the only one here with the annoying houseguest habit. Universal feel-good bug”Lady beetles are the universal feel-good bug, so it’sunfortunate a few are becoming pests,” said Kris Braman, anentomologist with the University of Georgia College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences.A researcher whose work focuses on integrated pest management,Braman has long supported lady beetles as beneficial insects.They feed on aphids, an insect that can cause major damage topecan trees, crepe myrtles, roses and many other plants.When lady beetles are around to eat the aphids, homeowners maynot need to spray insecticides to kill aphids, Braman said.”Unfortunately, I’m not getting calls from homeowners who arepraising lady beetles for controlling aphids,” she said. “I’mgetting calls from people who are vacuuming up Shop-Vacs full oflady beetles out of their homes.”Seal up the entranceBraman says the key to keeping them out of your home is findinghow they’re getting in and sealing the opening.”Sometimes this is easier said than done,” she said. If the bugsare able to get in, though, there are openings for heating orcooling losses that should be attended to.If you have to resort to physical removal, Braman urges you tobe careful. Lady beetles do have a defense mechanism.”They can release yellow hemolymph, which is reflexive bleedingfrom their joints,” she said. “It’s a defensive response for youthat can result in orange stains on your walls and furniture.”So how does an insect make the bad, pesty bug list? It’s up tous humans.”Paper wasps are beneficial insects that feed on caterpillarsthat damage crops like cotton and soybeans,” Braman said.”They’re also the wasps that build their nests in the eaves ofour houses and sting if you get too close.”No one thinks about the beneficial side of paper wasps whenthey’re applying Sting-A-Way first aid treatment and sprayingstreams of insecticide on their nests, she said.”You just dub them a pest because they’re a bother to you, yourfamily and your home,” Braman said.They aren’t cute on the ceilingThe pesty side of lady beetles is the aggravation they causewhen they come inside and the time it takes to remove them, deador alive. And when they die indoors from lack of food and water,they contribute to household dust and debris.”Living lady beetles don’t contribute to indoor air pollution,”said Nancy Hinkle, a UGA Extension entomologist. “But deadbeetles should be regularly swept or vacuumed, because as theirbodies decompose they contribute to household dust.”They’re no more likely than any other component of house dust(pollen, molds, dust mites, feathers, dander) to contribute toallergies, she said.Lady beetles can bite, too.”It’s just a little pinch,” Hinkle said. “Their mouthpartsaren’t really big enough to get much skin. But it’s uncomfortableenough to be annoying.”Hinkle said she has more than a thousand lady beetles living inher own house. “I think my house is the main overwintering sitein north Georgia,” she said.”When I read at night, the light burning over my bed lures inevery lady beetle in my house,” she said. “This is frustrating,but not enough to persuade me to use insecticides. But I do lookforward to them moving out in the spring.”last_img

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