Source(s): Willie O Chance
Ladybugs may invade your home as they seek protection from the cold weather. In fact, ladybug home invasions are quite common in the fall according to Kristine Braman and retired USDA entomologist Louis Tedders.
Ladybugs move into our homes as temperatures fall. They are looking for a protected spot to overwinter. The Asian ladybug was imported to the United States in the late 1970’s to eat aphids on pecan trees. Aphids are the small oval insects that feed on leaves, sucking the sweet sap out of the plants. Some people call them plant lice. Ladybugs love to eat aphids.
We have ladybugs native to Georgia, but they do not do a good job controlling tree-feeding aphids. These imported Asian ladybugs feed on pecan aphids, reducing the need for pesticide sprays. However, this supply of inexpensive and safe aphid control is not entirely free.
In Asia, these Asian ladybugs over winter on rock walls. In the U.S. they enter our buildings and gather on walls and ceilings. Many find their way inside our homes. Although they do not bite, sting or eat our food, they often become a nuisance.
How do we get rid of them? Since they are such a help, try not to kill them. Try to relocate them to the outdoors where they belong. This way they can live to eat aphids again next year. Here are several suggestions.
Picking them up individually is not a good idea. It stresses them and they give off a yellow liquid that can stain your carpet, walls, etc. The easiest way to dispose of ladybugs is to suck them up into a hand-held vacuum. Then dump them back outside far away from the house. You can also sweep them out of the house, but be careful that the yellow fluid they secrete does not stain anything.
If you use a regular vacuum, put the toe end of a pair of hose or knee-high stockings over the end of the vacuum hose. Hold it in place by putting a rubber band over the end of the vacuum hose and the stocking. Do not let the stocking get sucked up the vacuum hose. After you vacuum up the lady bugs, the stocking will be full of lady bugs which you can release outside. Caulk or otherwise seal cracks and holes that ladybugs can enter. Seal cracks around doors with weather stripping. This will help keep out other pests as well and reduce energy bills.
A final control would be to spray around your home with an insecticide to kill the ladybugs before they get in. I do not recommend this since it is so much better to just gather them up and put them back outside. If you have decided to kill the bugs, it is fairly easy just to vacuum them all up and dispose of the bag. Please only use sprays as a last resort. Pesticides are a necessary tool in this world but should be used as infrequently as possible.
Try to enjoy the ladybugs. I know kids do! You do not have to let them ruin your house though. Use these tips to send the ladybugs back to their home.
- Ellen Bauske, Education Coordinator- UGA Center for Urban Agriculture.
- Gil Landry, Coordinator – UGA Center for Urban Agriculture.
Center Publication Number: 225