Arkansas is home to many varieties of multicolored beetles within the Coccinellidae family, usually called “ladybugs.”
Multicolored Asian lady beetles, which look very similar to other beetles in this family, are about 7 mm long and are currently causing concern among Arkansas residents. Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD) pest specialists have received numerous inquiries about a larger than normal population of Asian lady beetles making their way inside homes, vehicles, campers, barns, storage units, and other areas uncommon for beetle populations.
“As temperatures warm in late March and April, the population of lady beetles inside homes will likely decrease,” said Agriculture Pests Program Manager Jake Bodart. “Lady beetles begin migrating anywhere to find warmth when temperatures outside drop. While seeking warmth, they are also attracted to light and shiny surfaces. Additionally, we believe their populations are noticeable right now due to an increased presence of their prey, which are aphids and scale insects that thrive in current conditions.”
Asian lady beetles are not poisonous but they do exude a foul-smelling, yellow defensive chemical, which will sometimes stain walls and other surfaces. While the odor of their defense mechanism should create only a minor nuisance, some people do report mild allergic reactions.
In spite of the inconvenience, lady beetles do play an important role as predators of aphids, scale insects, and other agricultural pests. “There is not a simple way to keep Asian lady beetles out, as they can fit through the tiniest crack or surface opening,” said Forest Health Specialist Chandler Barton. To prevent their movement indoors, use good quality silicone or silicone caulking to seal doors, windows, pipes, chimneys, and other openings. You should also repair damaged screen doors and vents, as they may be another point of entry. If you find yourself with a large population inside, the quickest remedy is a vacuum.”
Where the task of completely sealing exterior walls is not possible, other methods of control include exterior applications of insecticides. In most cases, insecticides will only last several days or up to a week. For further information about methods of control, find Multi-Colored Asian Lady Beetle Management Procedures, here, from Dr. John Hopkins at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
The Arkansas Agriculture Department is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Learn more: www.aad.arkansas.gov.