The Q&A Archives: Ladybugs In House

Question: Well, it's getting to be autumn and the ladybugs are here again. I know why they're in the house, but I can't find anything that tells me how to keep them alive. I hate to see their little dead bodies all around and I'd be happy to do what I can to make their winter easier. I have at least fifty houseplants of various types (although none, I'm happy to say, have aphids)--does this help?

Answer: Ladybugs can be a real nuisance indoors! Your home has probably been adopted by the Asian Ladybugs rather than the native kinds. These imported ladybugs differ from the natives in that they prefer to hibernate on high cliffs instead of old tree stumps. Your house might be the highest place they could find in the area and they decided to hibernate under the eaves near the roof. As the weather gets progressively cooler, the ladybugs are drawn toward the heat escaping from your home. They manage to find tiny openings between the boards of the house and end up in wall spaces or attics. The warmth of your home tricks them into thinking it's springtime.

Ladybugs are programmed to disperse when they wake up from their winter hibernation, and so they begin flying and crawling all around, in an effort to escape. The kindest thing you can do is collect them and send them outdoors. Either vacuum them up and empty the bag outside, or sweep them into a pile and toss them outside. There may be a few casualties, but the majority of them should survive the ordeal. There's really no way to keep them from coming in, short of sealing all of the tiny openings between the exterior and interior of your home. You're not alone, though. Many, many homeowners are invaded by swarms of ladybugs, much to their dismay!

Since the resident ladybugs think it's eternally summer in your nice warm house, they won't hibernate. But, when they run out of aphids (their favorite food), they'll die. I think I'd try to chase them out so they can hibernate right on schedule, waking up in the spring to attack the pests in your garden. I suppose it's possible to collect them and place them in the refrigerator, but I don't know of anyone who has actually done this!

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