How to get rid of ladybugs…a few pointers.

Ladybugs. A rather pretty name for a bug that can be such an ugly nuisance to your home. This article will show you how to get rid of ladybugs and how to keep these bothersome little beetles rid from your home. To be fair, ladybugs are actually a beneficial bug as far as insects go, (they eat even more annoying plant pests such as aphids and sap feeders). However, ladybugs are still particularly unbeneficial as guests inside your home. Once they have taken a fancy to your home, they will more than likely outstay their welcome.

Why?

Because they like to travel in large numbers and like to leave a mess. For this reason, ladybugs are apt to ruin rugs and other furniture with their secretions if allowed to go unchecked inside your home. With that, let’s discuss how to get rid of ladybugs. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix or “fool proof” way to ensure that every single beetle stays out of your home during these annual lady beetle invasions. However, in tackling the problem of how to get rid of ladybugs, there are some basic guidelines to follow:

 

HOW TO GET RID OF LADYBUGS?—USE THE VACUUM—NOT THE BROOM.

It should first be noted that ladybugs actually come in many different shapes, sizes and species and the specie that is most likely to arrive at your home unannounced is what is known as the Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle, or MALB, or Harmonia axyridis for all of you fun loving entomologists out there.  Probably the easiest way to remove these ladybugs in your home is with a vacuum cleaner.

A standard wet/dry vac with a hose also works great as well.  Because ladybugs are attracted to light, you will often find them crawling on your windows or flying around ceiling lights etc. Using brooms to knock them down can be hazardous particularly because it tends to squash them. When threatened, as say with a monster broom, ladybugs emit a noxious yellowish secretion as a defense mechanism.  It is actually their blood.  This defensive secretion will actually stain fabric, walls, wallpaper etc.

Furthermore, the University of Nebraska  has cautioned that large infestations of ladybugs will leave a definite odor within the home.  With that said, brooming those pesky ladybugs off of your white window curtains might prompt them to leave you a stinky little present.  And of course, refrain from swatting, stomping or in any way smashing these little ladies as this will produce that same unwanted result.

Although they are pretty, you should avoid picking them up with your hands as well because they can “bite”, although it is very uncommon and the bite is more like a tiny little “nibble” as their nibbling is not reported to break the skin or draw human blood.  Most likely, if they do nibble on you, they are simply examining the premises or seeking moisture.  Back to the vacuum cleaner…your best bet is to use the vacuum and suck them right out of their socks with a good vacuum cleaner or wet/dry vac before they have time to react.

Advice When Using a Vacuum Cleaner

There are few things to keep in mind when using your vacuum cleaner to get rid of ladybugs.  If large numbers of them get sucked into the interior part of the vacuum cleaner, their secretions will cause the vacuum cleaner to smell like ladybug nastiness every time it is used.

To prevent this, one can insert a knee-high nylon stocking into the hose wand to capture the beetles before they are sucked into the vacuum cleaner body. Insert the knee-high stocking into a connection joint in the wand so it forms a bag inside the hose and a portion of the stocking folds over the outside of the wand to secure it in place when the wand is put back together. After sucking up the beetles, remove the stocking and dispose of the beetles.

THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE—INSECTICIDES—WHERE AND WHEN TO SPRAY.

Although insecticides are a viable option, foggers, “bug bombs” and sprays should only be used outside. Studies from the University of Kentucky suggest that insecticides applied indoors for lady beetles tend to be ineffective anyway.

Furthermore, they may stain or leave unwanted residues on walls, counter-tops and other surfaces. Once again, a vacuum is more sanitary and effective when getting rid of ladybugs indoors.  Attempting to kill these beetles hibernating in wall cavities and other protected locations is seldom effective.

However, insecticides can and should be used–outside. You’ve heard it said in sports that the best offense is a good defense…a similar principle goes for getting rid of ladybugs as well.  Taking preventive measures to reduce beetle entry in subsequent years is a great way to “get rid of ladybugs”, albeit in a round-about way.  Apply insecticides to building exteriors in the late summer/early fall. This will help prevent pest entry.  Ohio State University suggests that repellent insecticides can be applied to exterior siding, including around eaves, attic vents, roof overhangs, doors, windows and other likely points of entry.  Remember to pre-test a small area to ensure that the chemical treatment does not stain or discolor siding.

For heavy infestations, it is recommended that you hire the services of a licensed pest management professional.  This is because wettable powder and microencapsulated formulations seem to be most effective against ladybird beetles and these formulations are not readily available to the typical homeowner.  However, there are also effective over-the-counter versions of products that are available to the homeowner.  These include products like 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. Again, to be effective, these barrier treatments should be applied before the beetles enter your home to “overwinter” as it is called.

Don’t bother spraying the outside of your home as a barrier treatment in the spring–the beetles have most likely already gained access.

WHAT!? THEY DON’T WANT TO BE HERE? WHY THEN DID THEY COME TO MY HOUSE?!

You might say that ladybug infestations are cast with an element of tragedy because, truth be told, they don’t really want to live in your home…at least not in the same way that ants, termites and roaches do. Ladybugs have more tact than that. After all, they are ladies.

In fact, unlike termites, roaches, bed bugs and all those other nasty vermin, research at the University of Kentucky  dispels the popular rumor that ladybugs will breed and spread like wildfire once inside your home.  In point of fact, ladybugs neither feed nor breed inside your home. Females don’t mate until after they have left your home.

Research at Ohio State University observes that mating typically occurs during the spring after males and females leave their hibernation sites–i.e. your home. So when they come to your home they are basically just looking for shelter, an insulated place to hibernate for the winter, which is why you most commonly begin to see them flying around the outside of your house in the fall—to be overly precise, typically in the afternoon on a warmer day just after a cold snap…after you’ve cozied up to a good book and taken your first sip of chamomile tea.

They don’t usually “invade” your home in the fall though–the inside that is–as they are looking for exterior places to hibernate for the winter—typically around window and doorframes, behind fascia boards and exterior siding, and within soffits, attics, and wall voids.  The spring is when they typically make their way into your home.

As temperatures rise in late winter/early spring, the ladybugs once again become active. As newly active beetles attempt to escape to the outdoors, some inadvertently wander inward, emerging from behind baseboards, walls, attics, suspended ceilings, etc.  And since they’re attracted to light, ladybugs are often seen around windows and light fixtures. Cue infestation.  However, although you may have an infestation, keep in mind that you are dealing with a relatively benign bug.   Things could be much worse.  Multicolored Asian lady beetles, the kind of ladybugs that are your home, don’t carry disease organisms.

Also, contrary to popular opinion, they don’t eat wood, building materials, or human food.  In fact, Multicolored Asian lady beetles don’t really consume any food while hibernating in and around your home, but instead rely on their stores of body fat. Otherwise, they eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Ironically enough, in spite of their lean diet during the winter, these ladybugs are voracious eaters.  As far as they are concerned with relation to your home though, they basically just meander into your home after hibernating, get stuck there, wander around trying to escape, and then…die. Sad, I know.

But don’t feel too sorry for them because, as you might have noticed, these autumn invaders often leave their mark, quite literally, by emitting that smelly yellow staining fluid, i.e. their blood, before kicking the proverbial bucket…hence the aforementioned soiled carpet and furniture, hence the nuisance, and hence your frantic search for “how to get rid of ladybugs”.

I hope this article has helped make that frantic search a little less frantic.

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