I see on CBS-19 that I’m not the only one dealing with a swam of Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles. These things look much like lady bugs (though with more color variation), but they are actually a totally different insect. Some jackass at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service thought it would be a good idea to import the critters from Japan in the 1970s, to eat aphids. They thrived, and now annually swarm — in our parts, they do so on the first warm day in mid- to late-October.
Two years ago I was caught unawares and the house was filled with thousands and thousands of them. Throughout the winter and spring they’d fly around the house, climb into the bed, bite us, release their horrible beetle-stink, and ultimate crawl towards the windows to attempt escape. We could vacuum up hundreds each day and never make a dent. Finally they all left in mid-spring. Last year I was prepared, and hatched a recipe to battle them. It was wholly successful and so now I share it with you, o sufferers of lady beetles.
Last year’s invasion began on October 31. They swarm the eastern wall houses, but generally only if they’re sunlit and more or less rock-colored. The well-lit, slate-gray eastern wall of my house was quite attractive to them. I had already thoroughly sprayed the entire wall with bifenthrin (Ortho Home Defense Max — I picked it up at Home Depot) a couple of weeks before, but I went over the entire thing again. Then I climbed up on the roof and hung two enormous blue tarps from the roof line, hanging them from nails I drove into the exposed wood. (Feeling quite smug about finally making use of the hammer loop in my jeans.) Finally, I doused the tarps in bifenthrin.
It worked really well. First, the blue of the tarps was far less enticing than the gray of the house, since blue is not a color that tells them “this is a rock outcropping that you can crawl under for the winter.” Second, even a light breeze stirred the tarps, which caused the ladybugs to fly off of them. Third, the tarp acted as a physical barrier to keep them out of the house. Fourth, even if they did get through the tarp to the house, that was sprayed. And finally, I even sprayed the windowsills of the two windows on the east side of the house, so that if they got inside they’d die just the same.
I felt safe declaring victory over the lady beetles come this past March, having spent the winter free of their nasty little bites, the orange fluid that they stain fabric with, and the general horribleness of sharing my house with thousands of insects. I followed the same plan this year, and spent some quality time on the roof yesterday and this morning hanging the tarps. Here’s hoping it does the trick again.