The Asian Lady Beetle, often referred to as the Asian Ladybug is one of the most variable species in the world, with an exceptionally wide range of color forms. It is native to eastern Asia, but has been artificially introduced to North America and Europe to control aphids and scale insects. It is now common, well known, and spreading in those regions, and has also established in Africa and widely across South America. This species is conspicuous in North America where it may locally be known as the Halloween ladybeetle.
Unlike the boxelder beetle, which also native to the Sacramento area which is named after the boxelder tree. It earns this name as it often invades homes during October, in order to prepare for overwintering. When the species first arrived in the U.S. and the U.K. , it was labelled in jest as the "many-named ladybird" due to the great quantity of vernacular names. Among those already listed other names include multivariate, southern, Japanese, and pumpkin ladybird.
Description and Their Habits
At present, Asian lady beetles appear to have few natural enemies. A small percentage of beetles are parasitized by tiny wasps and flies, while up to 80% are infected by a fungus in central Kentucky, which is only occasionally lethal. As a defense against predators, the beetles secrete a foul smelling yellowish fluid from their leg joints when disturbed. Some mortality occurs at sub-freezing temperatures, although survival is enhanced within buildings and other protected locations if adequate moisture or humidity is available.
In its native land, the Asian lady beetle is mainly tree-dwelling, living in forests and orchards. In Japan, it is also abundant in soybean fields. In the U.S., the beetles inhabit ornamental and agricultural crops, including roses, corn, soybeans, alfalfa and tobacco. During spring and summer, the larvae and adults feed mainly on aphids, consuming hundreds per day.
Lady Beetle Infestation
No you are not infested with Lady Bugs these are beetles... As autumn approaches, the adult beetles leave their summer feeding sites in yards, fields and forests for protected places to spend the winter. Unfortunately, homes and buildings are one such location. Swarms of lady beetles typically fly to buildings in September though November depending on locale and weather conditions. In California, most migration to buildings occurs in October. Beetle flights are heaviest on sunny days following a period of cooler weather, when temperatures return to at least the mid-60s. Consequently, most flight activity occurs in the afternoon and may vary in intensity from one day to the next.
Studies have shown that Asian lady beetles are attracted to illuminated surfaces. They tend to congregate on the sunnier, southwest sides of buildings illuminated by afternoon sun. Homes or buildings shaded from afternoon sun are less likely to attract beetles. House color or type of construction (concrete, brick, wood/vinyl siding) is less of a factor for attraction than surface contrast.
Contrasting light-dark features tend to attract the beetles -- dark shutters on a light background, light shutters on a dark background, windows edged with light-colored trim, gutters and downspouts on contrasting siding, etc. Dwellings near woods or fields are especially prone to infestation, although those in other locations can be infested as well.
Asian Lady Beetle Congregation
Once the beetles alight on buildings, they seek out crevices and protected places to spend the winter. They often congregate in attics, wall cavities, and other protected locations.
Typical locations include cracks around window and doorframes, behind fascia boards and exterior siding, and within soffits, attics, and wall voids. Structures in poor repair with many cracks and openings are most vulnerable to infestation.
As temperatures warm in late winter/early spring, the beetles once again become active. This usually occurs first on the sunnier, southwest side of the building. As awakening beetles attempt to escape to the outdoors, some inadvertently wander inward, emerging from behind baseboards, walls, attics, suspended ceilings, etc. Since lady beetles are attracted to light, they are often seen around windows and light fixtures.
Asian Lady Beetle Control and Management
People's reaction to lady beetles varies widely from tolerance to revulsion. The following management tips are provided when the beetles become a serious nuisance within a dwelling.
Vacuuming - Once the beetles are indoors, the easiest way to remove them is with a vacuum cleaner. If you later wish to release the beetles outdoors, place a handkerchief between the vacuum hose and the dust collection bag to act as a trap. A broom can also be used, but is more likely to result in staining when beetles emit their yellowish defensive secretion.
Sealing Entry Points- Sealing cracks and openings is the most permanent way of preventing lady beetles from entering buildings. The time to do this is in late spring or summer, before the adults begin flying to buildings in search of overwintering sites. Cracks should be sealed around windows, doors, soffits, fascia boards, utility pipes and wires, etc. with caulk or other suitable sealant.
Larger holes can be plugged with cement, urethane foam or copper mesh. Repair damaged window screens and install screening behind attic vents, which are common entry points for the beetles. Install tight-fitting door sweeps or thresholds at the base of all exterior entry doors. Gaps of 1/8" or less will permit entry of lady beetles and other insects. Gaps under sliding glass doors can be sealed with foam weather stripping. These practices will also help prevent entry of flies, wasps, crickets, spiders and other pests. Some householders may find it more practical to hire a pest control firm, building contractor or painter to perform these services (For more on this topic see University of Kentucky entomology fact sheet, How to Pest-Proof Your Home).
Using Insecticides As Treatment
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Indoor Treatment - Insecticide foggers, "bug bombs" or sprays are generally not recommended for eliminating beetles indoors. Insecticides applied indoors for lady beetles tend to be ineffective and may stain or leave unwanted residues on walls, countertops and other surfaces. A vacuum is more sanitary and effective. Attempting to kill beetles hibernating in wall cavities and other protected locations is seldom effective. A better approach is to take preventive measures to reduce beetle entry in subsequent years.
Exterior Barrier Treatment - While sealing cracks and openings is a more permanent way to limit beetle entry, the approach is time-consuming and sometimes impractical. There can be countless cracks associated with eaves, siding, vents, etc. where insects can enter. On multi-story buildings, sealing becomes even more difficult.
Exterior Barrier Treatment - If lady beetles are a perennial problem, owners may want to hire a professional pest control firm. Many companies apply insecticides to building exteriors in the fall, which helps prevent pest entry. Fast-acting residual insecticides can be sprayed in a targeted band around windows, doors, eaves, soffits, attic vents, and other likely points of entry.
Some of the more effective insecticides used by professionals include Demand (lambda cyhalothrin), Suspend (deltamethrin), Talstar (bifenthrin) and Tempo (cyfluthrin). Effective over-the-counter versions of these products include Spectracide Triazicide, Bayer Advanced Powerforce Multi-Insect Killer, and Ortho Home Defense Max. Purchasing these products in concentrated (dilutable) form will allow larger volumes of material to be applied with a pump-up or hose-end sprayer.
To be effective, barrier treatments should be applied before the beetles enter buildings to overwinter. In Kentucky, the proper timing for such treatments is typically late-September to early October although this will vary with seasonal conditions. During late winter or early spring, barrier treatments are ineffective since the beetles gained entry the previous autumn.