Fall brings increase in lady bug population
COLUMBIA - Fall brings beautiful trees and crisp weather but it can also bring some unfortunate visitors. People all across Missouri are seeing an increase in the amount of lady bugs both outside and inside their homes.
These bugs are more formally known as "multi-colored Asian lady beetles."
Rob Lawrence, a forest entomologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said in the fall, the beetles accumulate in large numbers and respond to changes in the temperature. He said when there is a cold snap during the night and then a warm spike during the day, the lady beetle migrates toward sheltered spaces like buildings and homes.
"This particular type of lady beetle searches for cliffs and they fly to vertical cliffs and seek those out for sheltered places to spend the winter. So, here a building, a house, especially one that has contrasting black and white with vertical shapes to it, will be very attracting to them. So that's where they accumulate in the fall," Lawrence said.
Lawrence said the best way to prevent them from getting inside your home is to caulk and seal up any cracks and crevices around doors and windows. He also recommends screening up any open vents.
The lady beetle is not harmful but they do come with some unfortunate circumstances.
Lawrence said the beetle has a foul smell to it, so it's best refrain from crushing them.
"If you see them on the drapes or wall, you don't want to smash them because they can stain the surface and they have this odor. So you need to refrain from doing that thing. You just gotta scoop them up," Lawrence said.
Lawrence recommends using a vacuum to get rid of the beetles to help prevent both the smell and staining. Bug repellents and insecticides are not effective on the lady beetles.
"The main thing is prevention. Just trying to keep them out of those cracks and crevices,"Lawrence said.
Lawrence said these lady beetles do come with some benefits. They are predators of other insects that feed on plants but just become a nuisance in the fall with their congregating behavior.
If one happens to bite you, Lawrence says not to fret because they are harmless.