Home Invasions Common

March 13, 2015

Home Invasions Common

Last Saturday, while she was at work, I tried to earn a few points with my wife by addressing a perennial problem at our home. She has this vile hatred of multicolored Asian lady beetles. I wouldn't want to say for sure, but I think it has something to do with the time one flew into her coffee cup and she found it the hard way. It took me forever to get the coffee stains out of our carpet!

With warmer temperatures this past week, our house, like many, has seen an increase in the activity of these pests along with boxelder bugs. I probably get 10 lady beetle questions to every one about boxelder bugs.

Multicolored Asian lady beetles and boxelder bugs seem to plague homes in the spring. However,  they actually invaded homes last fall and have overwintered under siding and between walls. With warm weather, they become active and accidentally move indoors instead of returning to the outdoors.

While they may be a nuisance in the home, and lady beetles can bite, they are harmless to people, plants or pets... and their bite is harmless, too. Neither of these insects will survive or reproduce in the home. They are frequently drawn to sunny windows as they look for a way to return outdoors. Once outside, lady beetles are beneficial because they feed on a major crop pest, soybean aphids, as well as other aphids and insect pests that may attack gardens, trees, shrubs and other ornamentals.

If you have many lady beetles or boxelder bugs in your home, sweep or vacuum them up to control them. If you use a vacuum, here is a suggestion. First, cut a leg off a pair of pantyhose or use a knee high nylon to trap them before they reach the container on your vacuum. Stick the toe end of the nylon down the hose with the open end folded over the outside of the end of the hose. Then put the attachment you'll use on the end of the vacuum hose to hold the nylon in place so it is not sucked into the bag or canister. Then, as soon as you are done vacuuming these six-legged pests, remove the nylon and release them outside or flush them down the toilet.

This works great, although I don't know if I'll lose any points I gained when my wife discovers I used one of her good knee high nylons! The reason to trap them before they reach the bag or canister of your vacuum is twofold. First, if the ride didn't kill them, they may crawl back out when you are done using the vacuum. The second problem is, they do give off an odor. Even if they die in the vacuum, each time you use it you will notice their odor until you dump the canister or change the bag.

Spraying or fogging with an insecticide indoors  is not effective nor recommended for controlling either of these pests. Once their coming-out-of-winter hibernation period ends, these pests will not be much of a problem until next fall when they look for a protected place to overwinter.

To keep them out of the home next fall, caulk cracks, crevices, and around conduit; use weather stripping around windows and doors, and keep screens in good repair. This should reduce the pests entering your home and also help reduce your heating bill. If these pests seem to be concentrated in a particular room this spring, focus your inspection on the wall and foundation outside this room.

For more information on controlling multicolored Asian lady beetles or boxelder bugs in your home, contact you local Nebraska Extension office.