As summer draws to a close, those of us who make our home in Kansas and other parts of the Mid-west find ourselves fighting not only the chilly weather but little red and black intruders. These lovely little ladybugs like to share our heat but have no interest in splitting the bill. As the temperatures drop lady bugs seek out a warm place to hibernate together for the winter. This usually means they sneak in through the cracks and crevices of our homes. Although these colorful bugs are not harmful, many people find their presence in the home a source of annoyance.
Ladybugs, also called lady beetles, are part of the beetle order Coleoptera. They’re highly recognizable by their oval shaped bodies and bright color. Most lady bugs are a shade of red, varying from bright red to light brown with black spots. This bright color is a warning to predators that they are not a good meal. In addition to their bright color, ladybug have another defense, they secrete a fluid from their legs which has an unappealing taste for predators.
The number of spots a ladybug has is an indicator to the species. In the United States alone, there are 500 different species of lady bugs and across the world, over 4,500. In the U.S. the native lady bug species is the nine-spotted lady bug. However, this species is giving way to the invasive multi-colored Asian ladybug. Scientists have not yet determined why this is happening, in fact, an entire organization has spent over twelve years researching this phenomenon (lostladybug.org). One theory is that the use of imported ladybugs in agriculture has led to a depletion of the food supply for the nine-spotted lady bug. Ladybugs provide a natural pest control for farmers because they feed off plant-eating insects like aphids. “Ladybugs lay hundreds of eggs in the colonies of aphids and other plant-eating pests. When they hatch, the ladybug larvae immediately begin to feed. By the end of its three-to-six-week life, a ladybug may eat some 5,000 aphids (National Geographic).” This effective use of nature against nature may have the negative side effect of decreasing the native North American ladybug populations.
Every year as harvest comes to a close, the ladybugs used to protect the plants are now out of work. Once the crops are harvested, the decline in food source and loss of habitat forces the ladybugs to leave the fields for the warmth and safety of our homes. If you experience an influx of ladybugs in your home this fall always feel free to give us a call. At Advantage Termite & Pest Control we successfully protect your home in the Kansas City area from any unwanted pests, including ladybugs.