Today was the day. That dreaded day each fall when the Asian Lady Beetles and Box Elder Bugs swarm our place.
Video from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Commision
(this is not our house – but the topography, vegetation… and swarm… sure look like ours)
They swarm. Millions of them. To get an idea of what it felt like in our yard today — cast Zip as Tippi Hedron, Audie as Rod Taylor and turn horrid little things into flocks of marauding birds. This leaves me as Jessica Tandy and casts Audie (appropriately) as a momma’s boy. Mark makes a cameo appearance as Hitchcock.
When the bugs come, there are so many of them and they create such a nuisance for us here that we’ve resorted to a limited form of chemical warfare to fight them. I detest using pesticides but before we did I’d have to sweep gallons of dead bugs off the floor of the training center and garage every day. Did I mention that when the horrid little things are dead – they stink? The ones I couldn’t find were a bigger problem than the ones I did. After they infested it, the place smelled like rotting, burnt piss fir all winter.
So, on warm October days we avoid the front doors of the house and training center. The front door of the house faces south and the training center faces west – so pretty much any time between noon and 4 p.m. going through those doors feels like being cast in a miniature version of the infamous playground scene.
I don’t feel bad about killing the Lady Beetles – they’re not the least bit ladylike. An exotic, invasive species that has been in our area for less than ten years – they don’t belong. In their natural habitat (which this is not) they prefer to winter over on white or light-colored cliffs. When they can’t find enough cliff areas, they swarm on light-colored buildings. Our house is red brick – but the front porch is light. The beetles love that front porch. The training center is dark-colored too – but there are two very large, very white overhead doors on the west side. The %&#$*# invaders postively lust for those doors.
Once these unwanted, invasive aliens congregate on the outside of your building – they start looking for a way in. And they’re very good at finding ways to get in. Once they get inside – they die. And then they stink. …Did I mention that if they land on you before they die – they bite?
So, since they’ve got lots of lovely, light-brown cliffs along the creek below our house where the swarm can winter over in a safe and somewhat biologically appropriate manner (considering they aren’t a native species here) – and – they’ll very likely just die (and stink) anyway once they crawl into my house and outbuildings, I suppose our limited use of a professionally applied insecticide barrier is appropriate.
According to the Minnestoa DNR:
Asian lady beetle populations are increasing in Minnesota because this species presently has no known natural enemies to control its numbers. The worst news is that they are replacing other species of lady beetles that are native to Minnesota.
Where did they originally come from? According to Iowa State’s Integrated Crop Management Program website:
Their original distribution is China, Japan, and Siberia. They are not native to North America, but they have been intentionally released in the United States by entomologists. This lady beetle was extensively released for biological control of other insects beginning in 1916 in California. During 1978-1981, the beetle was additionally released by state and federal (USDA) agencies in several states along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico, but the personnel responsible for these releases claim that the beetles never became established and eventually died out. Accidental entries have arrived on nursery stock at ports in Delaware and South Carolina. The first extensive populations were found in the United States in 1988 near the port of New Orleans, Louisiana, and it is assumed that these beetles arrived on a container ship from eastern Asia. Therefore, it is not known for certain whether the lady beetles’ establishment in the United States was the result of accidental entries, planned releases, or both.
More bad stuff from China. Cripes. They probably turn into melamine when they decompose…