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John Fulton


John Fulton
Former County Extension Director



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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
Multi-colored Asian Ladybeetle

Multi-colored Asian Ladybugs

Posted by John Fulton -

With our first dose of really warm weather, an old nemesis has returned over the past week. The Asian ladybugs were out in force last weekend. Each day we get a little bit of sun, or slightly warmer temperatures, we have a few more break dormancy and find their way into your coffee cup or inside the shade of your reading light.

We had a late buildup of the adult beetles last fall, mainly to prey on aphids which built up in their numbers late in the season. Then the food source died in the fall, so looking for more food, the ladybugs found their way to your house, garage, or sheltered patio area. There they sought shelter to overwinter, and warmth brings a few of them back to the active status each day. One of these days we will be overwhelmed when the temperatures are warm and the sun shines brightly.

Remember, these insects are considered beneficial insects. They feed on aphids and other soft-bodied pests. These insects were originally imported to help with insect problems in pecan production. That was all well and good, until these ladybugs went into the peach orchards. Soft bodied fruit is often damaged by this species of ladybug. From the South, there has been a gradual migration which now encompasses a large area of the country. There are often claims of being bitten by the Asian ladybugs. This can happen, but there is usually only a minor discomfort and there is no known transmission of disease involved. These ladybugs can also cause a sensation of a pin prick when they try to hang on to you. Just think of the ones which stay on your windshield at 60 miles an hour.

If you feel the presence of the Asian ladybugs presents more of a problem than a benefit, then look to control them to the best of your ability. As for what to do, inside the house you suck them up with a vacuum, pick up with toilet paper and flush accordingly, or use the swatter. Larger problems can be helped somewhat with a flying insect spray in an aerosol can to take out the ones it hits. No-pest strips can be used in areas such as three season porches where you aren't spending much time now, but don't use them in areas you frequent. Area sprays on the sides of garages and so forth will be effective soon, as the beetles tend to congregate on light surfaces which are up and down. This is to absorb the sun's warming rays. Commonly used area spray programs would use permethrin, bifenthrin, carbaryl, and other products. It is recommended to spot test a bit of the siding material to make sure discoloration is not going to occur.

A similar phenomenon will occur with boxelder bugs, elm leaf beetles, and others which we consider nuisance pests when they are in the home. The main damage from all of these occurs when they get smashed, and leave stains on materials. Hence, the recommendation to remove in their whole state by vacuuming or picking up rather than using a fly swatter or rolled newspaper.

The use of a foundation spray may also help reduce additional insects and millipedes from coming inside as you clean off flower beds and other landscape plantings around the house. This would be a barrier pesticide application on the foundation of the house (and the adjacent foot or two of soil around it) with something like permethrin or bifenthrin insecticides mentioned earlier. This puts down a barrier that insects crawl through when trying to get in or on your house. Insects may not die immediately, but shouldn't last long after crawling through this barrier.



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