Multi-colored Asian Ladybeetle

Multi-colored Asian Ladybeetle

Part of Ep. 1204 Great Gardens & Garden Greats

They're back. Asian Lady Beetles are in Wisconsin to stay but there are ways to keep them out of your house. UW-Extension Entomologist Phil Pellitteri explains how to identity and get rid of them.

Premiere date: Sep 22, 2004

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Isn't he cute?  Wouldn't you like a couple hundred or maybe a couple thousand of these in your bedroom?  Okay, here's a pop quiz.  What is it?  A native ladybug, an Asian ladybeetle or a Japanese beetle.  I'm with UW-Extension Entomologist, Phil Pelliteri to find out.  What are the bad critters?

Phil Pelliteri:
Well, the official name is Multi-colored Asian Ladybeetle.  Japanese Beetles are things that feed on your roses in July, but this is the Ladybeetle that comes swarming into peoples' houses by incredible numbers.  Literally, the numbers are as such, that it's like a science fiction movie in some cases.

Shelley:
Yeah.  I've seen that.  Why multi-colored?

Pelliteri:
Well, they're quite variable in color.  Their classic form is a pumpkin orange with 19 dots on the back, but they will go to almost a yellowish tan with no dots and there's even a black form with two red dots.  And they're all the same species.

Shelley:
Well then how the heck do we tell them apart from the native ladybugs?

Pelliteri:
You will not see natives coming in the house in swarms and the other thing that's quite interesting is these things tend to bite on occasion.

Shelley:
On occasion?

Pelliteri:
Well, it's not so much that they're doing it on purpose.  They're tasting you.  They're so hungry in the fall, they'll taste anything that they're on.  In fact, with that, we also see fruit damage, which is quite unusual for lady beetles.  They'll feed on anything that's high in sugar.  So ripe apples, ripe grapes and the like.  One of the negative parts of that is if they get into grapes when you make wine, they taint the taste.  If you ever handle one of these, you know they're very strong smelling, they literally bleed through their joints.  That's why the birds won't feed on them.  It's called reflex bleeding and unfortunately the proteins in their body fluids then can cause allergy problems with people.  We find people have asthma and rashes in association with these in some occasions.  There's even a health issue associated with the Multi-colored Asian Ladybeetle. 

Shelley:
Well, that's interesting.  My son has allergies and these just love his bedroom of all the rooms in our house.  In fact, they were so bad last year, they celebrated a 100 days of school and they said, “Bring a 100 of something.”  I suggested pennies, he said, “Well, why don't we bring in a 100 bugs from my bedroom, mom?”  But I should get them out of there, then, if he's got allergies.  This could be a concern.

Pelliteri:
It's best not to be exposed to them.  You can just vacuum them up.  There's an interesting side to this insect.  Some people think the government released it and it's true the USDA did release it about 16 different times, but it turned out not to be successful, but the insect showed up on its own around 1988 down in New Orleans.  The first records in Wisconsin were 1993, by 1995 they started coming in in incredible numbers and causing problems and they've been a problem ever since.

Shelley:
Well, these guys are nasty, why would anyone want to introduce them?

Pelliteri:
They have a beneficial side.  It turns out that they feed on Aphids.  They go through three generations a year, especially Aphids in the trees, but also out in soybeans.  It's kind of interesting, in 2000, the Chinese Soybean Aphid arrived in the United States and caused significant problems and the Asian Ladybeetle is the dominant predator, so it prevents this from becoming even more of an agricultural pest.

Shelley:
So either grow soybeans so they go over there or– I don't grow soybeans.  What do I do to keep them out of my house?

Pelliteri:
We know that the trigger is sometime in October you get a frost and then a beautiful Indian-summer day.  When the sun hits your house, it's like a magnet.  It turns out that they're attracted to vertical contrast.  On a cloudy day they're not swarming, but on a sunny day– the more exposed your house is, the more problems you're going to have with these things.  Now, there's one of two things you can do.  Either you build them out by tightening things up, make sure everything's screened and caulked, but in an old farm house that's not very practical. 

Shelley:
Our house is a 120 years old, they come in all over the place. 

Pelliteri:
Then the other option is to spray, but you spray before they get in.  There's about a two-week window, the last week of September, the first week of October is when you'd want to put the sprays on.  They're using various synthetic Pyrethroid insecticides, things like permethrin, cyfluthrin, bifenthren.  You notice they all end in a T-H-R-I-N.  These are readily available at hardware stores, in nurseries and the like, but you need to spray quite a bit.  The whole southwest and east sides of a structure, probably two or three gallons of spray to get the coverage.

Shelley:
So we're talking a big sprayer, not just an aerosol can.

Pelliteri:
Now you can have this done commercially or you can do it yourself, but once they get in– So in other words, you wait until the middle of October and they've already swarmed, you're not going to get them because nothing will penetrate the walls.  Then unfortunately, you're going to have to put up with them all winter until the next spring when they finally wake up and leave.

Shelley:
Okay, so the last week of September, the first week of October, that's it.  That's our only good time to do this?

Pelliteri:
Only window.  If you do it earlier, it's too early.  If you do it later, they're already inside. 

Shelley:
And I go to the hardware store and I'm looking for the active ingredient and tell me the names again.

Pelliteri:
These are synthetic Pyrethroid, but they end in T-H-R-I-N.  Now the only product to avoid is natural permethrin.  It's a good product, but it has no residual, it breaks down in less than a day, whereas these products will last for two to three weeks and that's what you need. 

Shelley:
We're trying to kill them and repel them for awhile.

Pelliteri:
Yeah, there's a lot of repellency in these sprays, so they'd rather not land on it, but if they do, they will be killed before they can get in. 

Shelley:
Well, that's good news then.  Thanks Phil.  You heard it here first, there's hope.

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