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.
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 Google+.