Sunday, September 14, 2008

LadyBug Invasion

Yesterday at the Friends of Brookside plant sale, I ran into a young lady who was decidedly anti-Ladybug. I'd have to say that is a first for any child I've ever met, but as ladybugs are technically beetles, can't say that I blame her for the bug bias.


For those who do appreciate lady beetles, as I do, I have the following advice to share that came in too late for this issue's InsectIndex story on ladybugs.

Many area residents report ladybug infestations in late fall/early winter. And as much as they adore seeing one on a rose plant in their yard, few welcome 100s invading their home.

Stanton Gill, Integrated Pest Management specialist with UMD HGIC, says that he is having grad students study if light-colored houses with dark-colored doors attract them in higher numbers. The theory goes that houses with this color scheme imitate cave openings where ladybugs spend the winter and that is what attracts them to come in these homes.

Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at Univ of MD, says that the best way to combat them coming in during the upcoming months is to seal your home openings well. This also has a bonus effect of saving your electricity $$$s.

Mike also recommends you go to Sugarloaf at the end of this month and into early October to see big crowds of ladybugs coming to winter on the dolomite cliff faces there. He says it is a great show to witness. He thinks it may not be the house color-scheme so much as that the ladybugs are attracted to tall structures standing out in the middle of a field which reminds them of the dolomite cliff faces they favor for over-wintering.

So the take-away lesson may be to NOT build a big white house with black front door in the middle of an open field at the top of a hill unless of course you relish the idea of sharing your abode with bugs. Hmmm, I think the McMansion developers around these parts may need to start issuing fair-warnings to their buyers as that describes about 90% of those dwellings.

Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA ARS Photo Library.

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