Lady bugs seek refuge from cold in some homes

STAFF PHOTO BY AMY BANTON Lady bugs have gotten cozy in some homes around the area.

During the past few weeks, lady bugs have made themselves at home in residences around the area.

Local residents may have noticed an influx of the red, black-spotted beetles crawling around homes and businesses.

This insect, also known as multicolored Asian lady beetles, are typically associated with spring time. They usually start seeking shelter in groups around the colder months such as October and November in South Carolina, according to the Clemson Extension website.

With the recent cold snap, hundreds of lady bugs have been sneaking into local homes.

“Lady bugs often have what is equivalent to a local population explosion on occasion at fairly unpredictable times and places, and then when temperatures begin to cool outside they seek cover in tree holes, underground, in small caves, or, in the most convenient shelter around, which these days is often houses, warehouses, garages, etc.,” said Dr. Whit Gibbons, retired University of Georgia faculty member and head of the public outreach program at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, in an email.

When a few uninvited lady bugs show up, many more will follow. Once this insect finds a cozy place to weather the cold days, they signal others by releasing a pheromone which invites other lady bugs to come take advantage of the newfound shelter, the Clemson website reads.

Lady bugs are harmless and many people find them to be cute little creatures. According to the Clemson Extension website, lady bugs do not bite, sting or carry human diseases nor do they reproduce indoors. They are beneficial to those who have gardens because lady bugs are predators of aphids which munch on plants, Gibbons said. Lady bugs eat other small insects, as well.

But, some may find a large collection of ladybugs crawling around their home a bit of a nuisance, especially if one has a house pet that finds whimsy in chasing things that fly which can cause quite a ruckus.

Gibbons said the solution to a lady bug invasion is to sweep out the ones that get inside or vacuum them up and discard the bag outdoors. Check around the house and make sure there are no openings where they could re-enter, he added.

“If left to their own devices, lady bugs will gradually disappear (probably because they have found hiding places) and may not be seen in large numbers again,” Gibbons said in his email.

For those who don’t mind sharing their home with a small colony of lady bugs, they probably won’t have too many issues with houseplant eating pests.