These Bugs are No Ladies!

They bite. They stink. And they stain when squished.
The multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) arrived on our shores early in the 20th century. It is not the same species as the bug that has been cutified by children's toy manufacturers or accessory designers. Harmonia axyridis is officially in the beneficial category due to its ability to control aphids, scale and other soft-bodied pests.

The various patterns of the Asian lady beetle
But it's a little off-kilter from our Midwest weather schedule. While the native lady beetles enjoy a life cycle that allows us to continue our love affair with the only insect that by any stretch could be called cute, it's a different story for Armonia axyridis.

The Asian species seeks hibernation spots, often inside our homes. And there is nothing cute about that! We can rest assured, however, that they aren't covertly reproducing behind the wainscoting. The females, the gender that calls the shots in most species, don't mate over winter. They save
themselves for spring, when both genders emerge from hibernation sites.

We also need not concern ourselves that they are chomping away at our houses' frames and foundations. They are carnivores that, like us, don't have the digestive system to chomp on wood. It's possible they'd taste better if they did.

My husband was enjoying a sandwich while sailing on Lake Michigan in late summer and is now the only human I know who has eaten one of these little blighters. One apparently became immobile after landing on the mayonnaise ooze characteristic of any sandwich my husband constructs.

"The fumes came out of my nose for days," he told me.

And since it's an "eat or be eaten" world out there, they bite. It might be kind of funny if you're not the bitee. They'll land in a tender, private place usually covered by clothing. This undercover union leads to a special dance  seen only when human meets insect. The bite is not said to be serious, but it's certainly annoying.

Entomologists recommend sealing tiny cracks around windows, doors, utility pipes and other areas with caulk or other sealant, and installing screening behind attic vents, which are common entry points for the beetles.
If they end up swarming inside anyway, vacuum them up. But pitch the bag right away. You don't want them stinking up the place.

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