Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home. Please.

Ladybug,ladybug, fly away home.
Your house is on fire and your children alone.

Mid to late October means the ladybug invasion has returned. Every time the temperature warms up the ladybugs swarm.

I used to think ladybugs were symbols of goodluck. Such cute little things. They eat aphids, for goodness' sake. They are red with black dots. People like to special order little packets of them to put out in the garden for organic pest control.

That was then. This is now. As I type there are 15 ladybugs congregating around the light fixture in my hallway office. There are probably 250 in our dining room. I haven't yet ventured upstairs to our bedroom, but for some reason (related to temperature, I feel certain) those bugs congregate in the hundreds and thousands in our south-facing room. They swarm and crawl, covering many inches of the area around our windows. They get in my hair. They drop in my shirt. They tickle the back of my neck and arms. YUCKKKKKKKKKK!

Never would I have been able to comprehend a person's hatred of the venerable ladybug. Til now. You might notice that the ladybugs congregating in your house are not red and black, but come in several shades of orange. This is a variety of bug imported from Asia called "harmonia axyridis." Unlike our red ladybugs, these guys do not burrow down in leafy mulch out of doors to overwinter. They want warmth and they want it now. Indoors. They will make their way into your house via attics, doors, cracks, whatever. They emit a very pungent(stinky) odor. Especially if they get squished.

A vacuum cleaner or broom is about the best way to get rid of these unwelcome visitors. Sometimes I brush them out the window. Sometimes I just look at them. Funny thing, I usually see some cute little child dressed up as a ladybug for Halloween. Not last night. Maybe I'm not the only one with ladybug issues.

4 comments:

sean said...

Ginger,
I laughed when I read this post. Our dorm was just attacked by them too. Luckily none of the guys were stupid enough to led the hundreds of them climbing on our door in. Today it was 73 degrees here today! Very different for MI but I will take what I can get.
sean

Rosco said...

Ginger,

When I was in college I went on this ski retreat in upstate N.Y. Our cabin was infested in ladybugs. Thousandths and thousandths of ladybugs. I woke up in the middle of the night and I instantly knew that a ladybug had crawled in my ear. I went to the bathroom and tried everything to get it out. I stuck paper clips in there, I flushed my ear with water, I tried banging it out. Eventually, the buzzing receded and I felt like I might have gotten it out. I went back to sleep.

Jump ahead six months. I'm babysitting some kids in Roanoke and we go to the pool. I try a crazy flip off the low dive and land on the side of my head. Smack! My ear starts ringing. Big pain. I take the kids back to their house and try to relieve the pain in my ear. Again, I try to stick things in there (not a good idea when looking back) and flush it with water. Eventually, something dropped into the sink, and when I picked it up, I discovered it was a perfectly entact, dried ladybug. Gross! The kids dared me to eat it (which I passed on), and instantly the pain in my ear went away.

Six months of carrying around that little guy. Who knew that could happen!

Anyways, though you might like that story. I promise, I do take showers...!

gingerhillery@mac.com said...

Ross, that is the funniest story! I will have to tell Philip, who will truly appreciate it! We will beware of ladybug in the ear incidents.

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Oh my goodness, that is horrible--he had a ladybug in his EAR for all those months! Have you had any in your mouth? I've had one or two in my mouth when they dropped into a cup of coffee and I didn't know it. Yuck!

From all my research and experience, we've concluded that they will swarm on the first sunny warm day after October 19. They are attracted to tall, light-colored structures facing the south. Wooded areas and overgrown shrubs and vegetation is preferred versus open farm fields. Old houses with lots of cracks and crevices are also a plus. Our last house was all beadboard walls--the original individual slats. So there wasn't even a solid wall to keep them out.

About vacuuming--I'm always afraid they crawl right back out of the hose. I plug it up with tissue but then I worry they're just going to crawl out of the air vents.

Besides the smell you mentioned, they also stain things orange.

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