A visitor at the Southeastern Flower Show took me to task for being so casual about ladybug invasions. “You have no idea what it’s like to have thousands in your house!” she said. “I crunch them under my feet wherever I walk!”
One ladybug is a curiosity. Four ladybugs are beneficial insects. But hundreds of ladybugs are a downright nuisance! They march across the dining room table, they crawl up the living room drapes. They make a crackly mess when stepped on by accident.
Even though lady bugs help control destructive insects outdoors, they can be a great nuisance when they cluster in a home’s wall. When warm weather arrives, the orange beetles wander aimlessly – some are bound to find openings around a window frame or electric outlet. On a warm winter day, hundreds of them may congregate on a warm exterior house wall
In fall, ladybugs actively look for an overwintering site under wood siding or in the attic of a mountain cabin. A few may become restless there and try to explore the territory on the other side of your ceiling light fixture or the trail that leads beyond the floor molding. The intrepid adventurers are the ones you discover crawling along the ceiling or up the window drapes. Or the ones you crunch underfoot when you go hunting a midnight snack.
The winter ladybug invasion is a relatively new phenomenon. The older, common ladybugs were never a problem. But when scientists introduced a new ladybug to combat pecan aphids, the new species became both an ally and a nuisance.
In the larger scheme of things, the best way to deal with ladybugs is to sweep them out of your house and wash them from your exterior walls. Since they do a marvelous job controlling pests that harm our landscape plants it seems a shame to kill them.
Use caulk indoors to seal any interior wall openings (electric outlets, heat vent grills, baseboard moldings). Climb a ladder to seal the cracks above indoor window and door trim. Ladybugs can’t crawl through solid walls – the openings they find are also exits for your precious heated and cooled air.
You can also use a hand vacuum to capture the intruders. Place a swatch of pantyhose across the nozzle so you can take them outdoors for release unharmed.
Perhaps it will cheer you up to think of them as insect examples of the hardy human explorers who discovered our New Land! In this case, though, just usher them back outdoors where they belong.