Did you feel a little more active and outdoorsy thanks to the warm weather of the past few days?
Well, then you know how a ladybug feels.
Their natural instinct to look for shelter in the fall, combined with unusually warm weather, has created a brief ladybug invasion. They’ve been crawling outside, and all-too-often inside, our houses and buildings.
“I’ve been fishing them out of my pool,” says university student Rebecca Yaworski. “And it’s not just 1 or 2. It’s more like 25, 30 at a time. So, yeah, there’s definitely been a significant increase.”
A local insect biologist says he’s not sure if this year’s population is higher than normal. “These beetles tend to cycle in population,” says Carleton University’s Jeff Dawson. We saw a large number of them in 2011. Maybe not so much last year.”
And yes, they can bite.
In the past few years Eastern Ontario has become home to the Asian ladybug, an invasive species first introduced to North America in the 1980’s. Unlike their North American cousins, they are known to take the occasional, painful nip out of people. Dawson thinks they taste the salt on our skin and temporarily confuse us with food. “I think it’s just a case of innocent mistaken identity,” he says.
Asian ladybugs come in a variety of colours and spot patterns. One way you can tell them apart is to look for a black and white “w” shape directly behind their heads.
Dawson says there is not much we can do about ladybugs. Remember that they perform a useful service by eating aphids and other garden pests all summer. Block up any gaps and openings to keep them out of your home.
And wait for colder weather.