Monday, October 13, 2008

The best-laid plans

o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley
- Robby Burns

My plans went a-gley this weekend. I had a huge to-do list, much of it outside.

When I stepped out the door Saturday morning I noticed the swarms of insects in the air. Asian lady beetles, hundreds of them. I ignored them for a moment, but that soon became impossible. They bite! Those tiny, vicious little monsters were eating me alive. With welts on my arms and neck, I retreated to the house in defeat.

These insects were imported in the 70's by the USDA. In the autumn they become a nuisance for homeowners. They swarm out of the fields and trees seeking shelter to overwinter. The insects invade homes, barns and garages and become first class pests.

I have to admit, the lady beetles must be doing their job of controlling aphids and scale. I haven't seen an aphid in my yard in years. I read an adult beetle can eat as many as 270 aphids per day. That's a lot of biological control.

The Asian beetles are larger than our home grown ladybug. They come in a multitude of colors, orange, red and yellowish, some with, some without black spots. Since they have no natural predators in the US, they are expected to spread aggressively until food sources decline.




Photo from Department of Entomology
University of Missouri

55 comments:

William said...

We had these really bad a few years ago but I haven't noticed them lately. I wonder why?

flydragon said...

I haven't noticed these in my yard yet. I'm guessing they're on their way here. Mother Nature usually takes pretty good care of things herself until some human comes along and throws a monkey wrench into the works. Darn humans. (Not including you and me of course.)

Dog_geek said...

Oooh, I hate those things! My husband totally doesn't believe me that they bite! And apparently our guest bedroom is directly in their migration route. We usually keep that door shut all the time to keep the cats out. I had a shock when I opened the door the other evening and found dozens of ladybugs buzzing around in there!

tina said...

Great information on these guys. I haven't noticed them yet at my place but I know they are coming. Just can't figure out how they get in the house! Pesky things, I did not know they bit and hope they go away soon.

perennialgardener said...

I've never seen these in my area Marnie. Another imported nuisance like the Fire Ant. No natural predators so complete takeover. Sorry you weren't able to take care of your to do list.

Defining Your Home said...

We have one door on the west side of the house where these foreign ladybugs try to come in the house. Keep your vacuum handy! Cameron

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi William, maybe they cleaned up the aphid population in your area so their numbers have declined. Best of both worlds;)

I tried to visit your blog page but was blocked.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Flydragon. I think rural homes are hit hardest. I don't know where you live but perhaps you will get lucky and not such a plague of them.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Dog Geek, I've read thing that they don't bite;) People should not write on subjects they do not know. They have a painful bite that leaves a little welt.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Tina, I hope you won't be troubled by them. I don't know how they get into houses either. Tiny cracks, I guess. No house it air tight.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Perennial Gardener. Seems like several of you aren't troubled with them. You're lucky.

These are Japanese beetles but slightly less of a nuisance then their larger green cousins.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Cameron. I do keep the vacuum handy. That's about the only thing we can do;)
Marnie

Gail said...

So far I haven't seen any but I will pay attention! I like a gov't that doesn't consider the unintended consequences of it's actions! Never learns!

Maybe this weekend will be better.

Gail

Sherri said...

So sorry the Lady Beetles bit you! I didn't know they bite. Hopefully they will leave soon.

Rambling Woods said...

The law of unintended consequences of putting something non-native into the environment. I hope you don't suffer those bites for too long. I didn't know that they bite..

Rose said...

LOL, Marnie, I was going to do an update on these beetles in my next post, too. I read an article in the paper just this weekend about their being imported to kill aphids. I wish we could export them once they've done their job. They really are a nuisance!

Sweet Repose said...

I have noticed a few, but I am not too bothered in the area, but where I used to live, we were swarmed every year. Ever try to paint furniture outside when the swarms are around...DON'T...and YES they bite!

sharon

The Birdlady said...

Great macros! I always think of the little rhyme we sang as children..."lady-bug, lady-bug, fly away home....your house is on fire, your children are gone'...It always worried me.

raccoonlover1963 said...

I have them as well. Somehow, they manage to get into my house, even when the windows are locked for cold weather. I find them all through the winter.
Lisa

beckie said...

Marnie, aren't they a pain in the behind-everywhere else too! They are thick here right now with harvest going on. And how they manage to find their way into the house is beyond me. Let's hope it cools off and they go into early hibernation.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie!
What an appropriate post this time of year! We haven't seen any yet (just our regular,loved ladybugs), but they will arrive soon, I bet. Too bad they kept you out of the yard, but that bite is not pleasant at all... when I first heard about these biting I said, nah, ladybugs don't bite. Then I went outside and promptly got bitten and it hurts! They really seem to like going for the neck and face for some reason. We definitely vacuum them up when they get in the house!

Hope yours don't cause too many more problems for you!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Gail, you put it very well. Kudzu, rose rosette disease, Asian Lady beetles all imported to 'help' the US farmer.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sherri, actually they will be around all winter. They swarm even in winter when we get a thaw with a few warm sunny days.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rambling Woods, I agree. When will they learn you can't mess with mother nature.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rose, I'm sorry you are having the same problems. Do you notice fewer aphids in your garden?
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sharon. I can imagine trying to refinish furniture with these beetles getting stuck in the wet paint. Then too, you would be slapping at them and getting covered in splatter;)
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Birdlady. Isn't it awful the 'nursery rhymes' and poems told to children. It's a wonder we all aren't phobic. Some of them are down right grim.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Lisa, they get in my house too. I have a hand vac in the two rooms they somehow get into. What a pain in the patoot;)
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Beckie, I don't know how they get in either. These 'expert' articles that say just seal up the tiny cracks. Well duh, if we could find any tiny cracks we would. I don't know how they get in.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi IVG, they are a pest but I guess they do some good with aphid control. Like I said, I have no aphids. Maybe it's worth it. Better than some crop duster flying over dumping poison. Much better! I'll tough it out like every other year.
Marnie

TC said...

While researching Asian lady beetles for an article some time ago, I found out that they have tiny stiff hairs/spurs on their legs:

"Some bite, most do not. Sometimes the Asian lady beetles bite skin, but often this stinging sensation is actually caused by small spurs on the beetle's legs pricking skin as they move and evaluate whether or not the skin is a food source."

They can be a nuisance that's for sure, and be careful not to squash one on your clothes, it'll stain.

troutbirder said...

Hey Marnie A few years back we were in GSM National Park and the biologist ranger gave a program on the fireflys there that light up the mountainside, all at the same time. Wow! "Any questions?" he asked. All the questioners wanted to talk about was these damn Asian ladybugs. And they do BITE.

Kathleen said...

I've never experienced this Marnie. I think I would have retreated also. I don't believe I have anything in my garden except our regular ladybug. Maybe they haven't made it this far west yet?? Does this exotic affect the existence of regular ladybugs, do they co-exist well?? intermingle?? I'll have to read up on them. Very interesting information especially for those of us not familiar with them.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi TC, interesting about the spurs. I don't mean to give the impression that they aren't useful at aphit control-they probably are. We started having these swarms about 5 years ago. That's when they became a pest in this area.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Troutbirder, LOL I can believe it. People who live in areas where there a thousands of these beetles swarming get pretty frustrated.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Kathleen. I have not heard anything about these asian beetles threatening our native ladybugs. TC probably knows because of his research.
Marnie

marmee said...

i don't think i have ever had these but i could've mistaken them for a ladybug, i guess.
hope your bites are getting better.

i love the little cottage that was decorated in last post, so cute and quaint.

come over to my place you have been tagged!

Jamie and Randy said...

I don't know if I've ever seen these around the house or not. I will certainly be looking for them now.

BeadedTail said...

Yikes! I hadn't see those before! Sounds like they eat pests but have the potential to be pests themselves if they bite people.

walk2write said...

When we lived in W. KY we began to have an invasion of these things, and I thought they were some aberrant form of ladybugs, another example of nature gone awry. I never had the misfortune of being bitten, but I was amazed at how healthy the roses looked the year the bugs appeared. I guess the aphids were more appealing than me! Yikes!

Naturegirl said...

I must say that I've NOT met one of these bugs although the "ladybug" is one of my favorite insects..but this year I've not seen much of her around my rose garden? (perhaps because I had no aphids)
I loved your last post where you featured your friends window box..she does have a wonderful eye for combing!
You and I both are fans of AnnabelLes..mind have turned green and soon to be brown and I leave them for some winter interest against the white snow.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Marmee, I guess a lot of people don't have enough of these beetles to cause a problem. That's good.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jamie and Randy, You may not have many in your area. I hope it stays that way;)
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beadedtail, yes, mixed blessing/curse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Walk2Write, I'm happy that we don't have aphid problems anymore. I'm happier still that no one feels they have to spray poison.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Naturegirl, I remember the photos of your annabelles. She is a wonderful little shrub. Wish I had a dozen;)
Marnie

Balisha said...

Hi Marnie,
They chased us into the house in Wisconsin this weekend. They are in my back yard too. We can't sit by the woods without being bombarded. Which is worse....asian lady beetles or aphids?

The Organic Gardener said...

I am going to agree with William, we had them bad also, but an exterminator said to spray the house with water every day at noon, and they have all disappeared! Yeah for the exterminator!

Q said...

Dear Marnie,
Thank you for the information on these bugs. I have not seen them in my garden.
Hope they move on so you can enjoy being outside in your lovely garden.
Looking forward to reading your past posts and getting to know you.
Loved seeing your butterflies on your sidebar.
Namaste,
Sherry

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Balisha. It is annoying isn't it? The aphids are definitely worse. Hard to say which is worse. I never had a huge problem with aphids. Nothing a good spray from a hose wouldn't fix.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Organic gardener. Interesting. Unfortunately I'm never home during the day except weekends. Good idea for anyone who is home during the day.
Marnie

oldcrow61 said...

Thank goodness we don't have them here yet. It must be awful. We only have to contend with black flies and mosquitoes at certain times of the year. While they do bite, I wouldn't want swarms of those beetles attacking me, lol.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sherry. We share a love of butterflies. I hope you are in an area that isn't troubled with these little beetles.
Marnie

Cordwood Cabin said...

I recognize the photos of those little pests...who would think something so cute could be so vicious? Last year they lined our house interior walls and windows, stuffed themselves into every spare crack of the out buildings. If only some of them would take the Ladybug's advice and "fly away home" to Asia!

GardenJoy4Me said...

I haven't heard of these beetles .. wow ! .. I could use some here because we have had the worst infestation of aphids I have ever seen this past summer .. there were so many they actually made me sick seeing them smother my false sunflower .. I had to hack it down and totally get rid of it.It seemed to be the only plant they were interested in at the time. These other beetles bite ? .. hum .. I have to think about that one then ! LOL

Sue said...

Marnie,
We had a bunch of those beetles a few years ago, but haven't had as many the last couple. I didn't see any this year until a couple days ago, and amazingly, it was just one.

I can't remember if they came into the house or not, but I did get bit on several occasions when out gardening. It did hurt!

This summer I had some Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth caterpillars on a spurge a friend had given me, that I dug once I figured out was illegal to grow, and the caterpillars were gone, either eaten or formed their chrysalises. They were quite pretty. In my research, I found out this moth was imported, I think by Canada, first, to control the spurge. They have only succeeded in defoliating the plants, but not in killing them.

Sue

ChrisND said...

I will have to see how many of our lady beetles are the asian variety...I hope people are learning to be more careful about importing foreign insects and animals - even for what looks like a good reason.