Autumn means falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and apple picking. And while we're outside enjoying the crisp weather, Asian lady beetles, or ladybugs, are scrambling inside to keep warm. But there are simple ways to safeguard your home, according to Good Housekeeping, which highlighted tips from both pest control company Orkin and the University of Minnesota.
Asian lady beetles, or Harmonia axyridis, aren't native to the U.S. But populations of the bug have exploded throughout the South, East Coast, and Midwest, and households across the country are now annually bombarded by the tiny spotted bugs come fall. They prefer our snug houses to the great outdoors, and are known to congregate on and around light-colored buildings, seemingly by the dozens (if not hundreds). Some prefer chilling in quiet places, like attics, and re-emerge on warm winter day or in the spring.
In addition to being unwelcome house guests, Asian lady beetles exude a bitter, smelly aroma, especially if they're crushed, and can stain light-colored surfaces with a yellowish liquid they secrete from their legs. The good news? Asian lady beetles are relatively harmless, although they do bite and some people might be allergic to them.
The secret is prevention. Seal all cracks and crevices in your house with caulk and other materials, as Asian lady beetles typically wriggle their way inside through these tiny openings. (Keep a close eye on home sections where two different construction materials meet, like brick and wood siding.) Also pay attention to cable TV wires, phone lines, and other wires and pipes that run through miniscule, bug-sized holes.
Repair or replace damaged windows and screens, too. As one final preventative measure, install door sweeps or thresholds to all exterior doors, and line your garage door's bottom with a rubber seal. And if you're not chemical-averse, consider pre-treating your home's outside doors, windows, and roof lines with insecticide. (Don't use these products indoors, as they won't deter bugs from coming in.)
If Asian lady beetles do somehow make their way into your home, the only thing you can really do is either vacuum them up (change the bag regularly to avoid a lingering stench), use insect light traps in dark locations, or simply wait it out. By spring, they'll be frolicking in your backyard instead of on your living room ceiling.
[h/t Good Housekeeping]