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