Grab the vacuum: Ladybugs overwhelm parts of U.S. Southeast

Lady beetles are congregating in a corner of a ceiling in this photo courtesy of University of Tennessee released to Reuters on November 6, 2013. Credit: Reuters
Lady beetles are congregating in a corner of a ceiling in this photo courtesy of University of Tennessee released to Reuters on November 6, 2013. Credit: Reuters

Millions of ladybugs are invading homes and businesses in parts of the U.S. eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast this fall, causing headaches for residents who are fighting the invasion with vacuum cleaners that suck up the insects.

While harmless to humans, masses of the multi-colored invaders are a nuisance as they slip indoors through cracks around doors and windows. Plus they can stain curtains, upholstery and walls if squashed.

A spike in the ladybug population is typical this time of year as they fly out of the farm fields where they help control other insects and seek a warm place to spend the winter.

A mild winter followed by a rainy spring in the east and south created the perfect environment for the species, known as the multicolored Asian lady beetle, to flourish in larger-than-usual numbers in some areas, said David Cook, an entomologist for the University of Tennessee and an extension agent in Nashville.

“It was a perfect insect storm,” he said. “They’re cute, but no one wants a lot of cute.”

The swarms have been particularly bad in the South. In Alabama, Walter Harris said he found a couple hundred of the critters swarming the front door of his house last week, and he knew better than to squash them.

“If you do that, they’ll stain real bad,” said Harris, coordinator for the county extension office in Huntsville. “The only thing you can do is vacuum them up.”

The ladybugs, which have black spots and wing covers that vary in color from red-orange to yellow or tan, gravitate to heated homes and light-colored walls, Cook said.

While they are not harmful, he said people looking to avoid the nuisance should check the weather stripping and insulation of their homes, particularly if they live near wooded areas.

Cook called the beetles a “major problem” in Tennessee, but an insect expert in North Carolina said big swarms of ladybugs in that state were not widespread so far this year.

“We’ve had a few areas with high populations, but you could go even a mile or two away and not see them,” said Michael Waldvogel, an extension entomology specialist at North Carolina State University. “So much depends on surroundings and where the ladybugs were finding prey.”

The invasion should be repelled in a few weeks by the onset of cooler weather and a few freezes. Typical patterns in the ladybugs’ food supply, mainly aphids, also mean the population will be much smaller next year, Cook said.

“But I’m afraid for a few weeks, it’s going to be annoying for some people,” he said.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…