How to Safeguard Your Home From Annual Asian Beetle Invasions


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]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]