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Invasion of Asian Lady Beetles

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

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This morning in the shower I happened to open my eyes while rinsing the shampoo from my head and I noticed several, no make that many, small dark spots near the exhaust fan and in a corner where two walls and the ceiling join together.   At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then I put on my glasses and eureka … more like oh duh … I remembered that we had a couple of hard frosts earlier this week and that those dark little spots were actually Asian lady beetles.

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle

When I was a youngster … and even a young adult … our houses were usually invaded with box elder bugs every fall. I haven’t seen more than one or two box elder bugs since moving to Kansas, but I have seen thousands of Asian lady beetles … most of them in the house. I don’t really mind the beetles, and they do a number on aphids and other pesky garden pests, but when they crawl on your face at night it is a little disconcerting. We combat them with some household cleaning tools … I wrote about them in the magazine here … the tools that is.

The Asian lady beetles were introduced into this country at least twice … once a long time ago by the USDA in its search for beneficial pest-fighting insects. This more recent outbreak of spotted bugs is attributed to the escape of a large group of stowaways that hitched a ride to the Port of New Orleans aboard a cargo ship in 1988. These invaders were determined to stay in this fair land of ours, and they have done well. 

I wouldn’t have noticed that these bugs were here except that they bite you if they get a chance (I never had a lady bug bite me when I was a youngster) and they emit an off-putting smell when you mess with them. And here in Kansas anyway, they invade the house in late fall. Read more about the invasion of the lady bugs in a story we did last year for our electronic newsletter here.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

hank will_1
11/3/2008 11:37:44 AM

Right on Cindy. This morning, I had one on my shoulder after my shower. It is kind of funny, actually. Kate doesn't think it is as funny as I do though. I will do an initial dust-busting soon ...

cindy murphy
11/1/2008 7:01:44 AM

Let me take a wild guess, Hank. Those two favorite light-colored rooms are on the south or west side of the house. Our two infested rooms - my daughter's upstairs bedroom, and the living room directly below - are on the southwest corner of the house. The reason, (and the reason white and light colors attract the beetles), is because of warmth. Typically a south or west facing room on a light-colored house heats up faster when the sun shines. I know waaaay too much usless(?) information about Asian Lady Beetles only because I'd never seen invasions like this until moving into this house 9 years ago, and checked nearly every article I could find on the Internet to find out why they liked our house, and how to get rid of them. We use the vaccuum too.

hank will_2
10/31/2008 4:50:59 PM

Hey Cindy -- I loved your crescendo to the deadened phone. These little creatures must love our house because it is white on the outside ... very tight by the way, and their too favorite rooms are painted very light colors. Last winter we filled an entire cordless vacuum chamber with them ...

cindy murphy
10/31/2008 12:51:44 PM

Hi, Hank. Invasion of the Asian Lady Beetles; I know it all too well. My thirteen year old is still afraid of them, as much as a thirteen year old will admit she's afraid of a bug. Tramatized at the young age of barely four, the beetles invaded her room by the hundreds, and it continued for years until we gutted her room, removed the plaster and lathe, insulated and rebuilt from the studs up, (our 100 plus year old home was built without insulation). We didn't gut the room just for the purpose of keeping the Asian Lady Beetles out, but it has helped tremendously. My husband is inundated with calls every year. He works for USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Market News - not the agency that would handle "Oh No! I'm being INVADED! What do I do?!" calls, (or the department that released the beetles) But still people call, and they are frantic - hysterical even. One woman described a scene straight out of a horror movie. "They're covering the walls! They're on the door! I can't get out of my house!" My husband hears shouts in the background through the phone as another family member relays up-to-the-second news on the invasion. "OH MY GOD!!! They've covered the dog!!!" The phone goes dead. (no, no - I just made up the dead phone part. I thought it added a bit of drama - especially on this day, Halloween.) Dark houses may be the rather drastic answer. The beetles swarm to, and hibernate in white or light colored buildings.