Ask The County Agent: ‘What can I do about all these ladybugs?’
By Stephanie R. Butcher, UGA Extension-Coweta County
Question: What can I do about all these ladybugs invading my house?
Agent: Ladybugs are some of the most helpful insects in our landscapes and gardens, but they can be quite irritating when they start moving into our homes to escape the cold weather.
Ladybugs are not actually “bugs”. They are a type of beetle, so technically speaking, they are lady beetles. Sometimes they are called ladybird beetles, but for the purposes of this article, I will call them ladybugs.
There are more than 6,000 species of beneficial ladybugs in the world. Although we have native ladybugs in Georgia, many of the ones we see are Asian ladybugs because they were imported in the late 1970s to help control pecan aphids. Ladybugs feed on many insect pests like scale and mealybugs, but they love aphids.
If you see ladybugs in your garden, then you can bet they are feasting on aphids or other insects that you don’t want in your garden. In fact, one ladybug can eat about 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.
Since we know that ladybugs are great to have in our landscape, what should you do if they come in your house? Relocate them. Don’t try to pick them up or kill them.
Picking them up individually can stress, them and they give off a yellow liquid that can stain your carpet, walls or furniture. The easiest way to dispose of ladybugs is to suck them up into a hand-held vacuum and dump them back outside far away from the house. You can also sweep them out of the house, but be careful that the yellow fluid they secrete does not stain anything.
If you use a regular vacuum, put the toe end of a pair of hose or knee-high stockings over the end of the vacuum hose. Hold it in place by putting a rubber band over the end of the vacuum hose and the stocking. Do not let the stocking get sucked up the vacuum hose. After you vacuum up the lady bugs, the stocking will be full of lady bugs which you can release outside. Caulk or otherwise seal cracks and holes that ladybugs can enter. Seal cracks around doors with weather stripping. This will help keep out other pests as well and reduce energy bills.
As frustrating as they can be when they move into your house, ladybugs are a great natural predator of insect pests. Try to give them a break as they look for places to overwinter.
For more information about ladybugs or other insects, email [email protected] or call 770-254-2620.
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