Every fall, we work around the house and garden preparing for winter. Now is the time to begin insulating and caulking our homes and green houses. We work in our gardens and flowerbeds preparing for a long, dormant period. We are not alone in our preparations. All animals, birds and insects are making their own preparations for the coming winter. Mice may more frequently show up in our homes, squirrels are feverish in storing food, birds begin to migrate or store seeds in tree nooks and crannies. Most of the wild kingdom's preparation goes unnoticed. However, recently, there have been a few visitors that we cannot ignore.
Of all of these visitors, many would argue that the most prevalent is the Asian Ladybird Beetle. Not to be confused with our domestic ladybeetles, these are an exotic brought in for orchard use. When these visitors first show up, often times they have a pleasant non-threatening presence. Who could mind the cute, awkward little spotted visitors. They are slow, don't eat or make much of any mess and are harmless enough. The problem begins to emerge when more and more of them appear. The Asian Ladybird Beetle is also known as the Multi-Colored Ladybird Beetle. It is a dull orange color and has anywhere from zero to 19 black spots on its wing covers. They are very effective predators and feed on such landscape and garden pests as aphids, scales, and maybe even some adelgids. However, in late summer into the early fall, they will congregate in large numbers, often in the thousands, and seek shelter. This often occurs on/in homes that are lighter in color or are on more exposed sites, but they are a problem elsewhere as well. They can exude a foul odor when brushed, swept, or crushed; therefore it's important to collect them with a vacuum cleaner rather than sweeping them up. They may also exude an orange-colored liquid that can cause staining of fabrics.
Much like old high school friends and some not so close relatives, these visitors may have seemed harmless or even entertaining at first. However, most homeowners quickly lose their curiosity and amusement with them shortly after their first appearance.
Unfortunately, there are only a few tactics that prove to be useful. First, your home should be tightly sealed, not only from the weather but also from these visitors. Doors, windows, and attic vents should be inspected every summer for small openings in screening, caulking-breaks around the trim, and any crevices that may have opened due to wood shrinkage. Once any of these problems are discovered, they should be remedied as soon as possible in order to keep these pests outdoors. Once they have found a way inside, these insects can be vacuumed up; then the bag inside the vacuum should be removed, placed into a tightly sealed plastic bag and moved to an outdoor location.