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
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…