The Q&A Archives: Ladybugs

Question: We have hundreds of ladybugs in our house, congregating around the east and south windows. Most of them end up dying, leaving dead bugs everywhere. Why are they coming in, and what can we do to get rid of them? This is not really a gardening question, but maybe you can help!

Answer: Ladybugs are beneficial insects and most people are reluctant to destroy them, even if they are invading a house. The ladybugs in question are Asian imports that differ from native ladybugs in that they are cliff dwellers as opposed to stump dwellers. When ladybugs hibernate they swarm together for protection. The cliff dwellers don't know the difference between the side of your home and the side of a cliff, so they congregate in the highest, warmest, most protected site they can find, which is usually at the peak of the house under the eaves. When winter weather gets too cold they squeeze through any opening they can find, which puts them inside the walls of your home. They hibernate quietly until spring arrives and then they wake up, ready to take flight. Except that they don't know how they got in and they don't know how to get out. As a result, they fly toward windows and lights in an attempt to get out. It's usually best to put up with the intrusion, sweeping, shooing and vacuuming the critters up. If you use insecticides, the ladybugs still trapped inside the walls will die, and their bodies will attract carpet beetles and other insects that feed on dead insects. Carpet beetles are extremely difficult to eradicate and can be very destructive to carpets, clothing and stored cereals. The best way to deal with the ladybug invasion is to let it run its course, and to caulk up any openings between the siding and the roof of your home to prevent a repeat performance next year.

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