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Vermont Garden Journal: Sharing Your House With Asian Ladybugs

Ines Carrara
The Asian ladybug looks like the native ladybug, but prefers warm buildings over old tree trunks and rocks.

This Thanksgiving you might have noticed a few extra guests literally dropping in for the holiday. Asian ladybugs have become an indoor pest throughout the state. This species of ladybug was introduced in the 1900s to eat aphids and scale, but also has accidentally arrived on freighter ships since then. Their population has expanded into the North and they're now part of the fall landscape just like colorful leaves and Canada geese.

The Asian ladybug looks like the native ladybug, but has a different behavior. In fall, the native ladybug overwinters outside in old tree trunks and under rocks. The Asian ladybug, however, has a penchant for warm buildings. Every year we watch as these ladybugs invade our house to overwinter. They're attracted to light colored surfaces, so my yellow house doesn't help. If repainting your house, consider using a dark color.

In spite of window screens, ladybugs slip into your house and collect on ceiling corners. If you have ladybugs indoors, don't panic. They're harmless. Many will die overwinter from our dry, indoor heat and drop from their ceiling perches onto tables and floor. My dogs like the gobble them up.

You can collect and rid your home of these pest ladybugs. Be careful, though. Ladybugs don't really bite, but if stressed they exude a yellow “liquid” that can stain furniture, rugs, and curtains.

The best method is to use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the ladybugs and release them. Don't let ladybugs sit in the vacuum cleaner bag for long or they will decompose and smell. Also, caulk around windows and doors in the fall.

This week's tip: cover over carrots still in the garden with a thick six-to-12-inch deep layer of hay, straw or chopped leaves to insulate the ground from the cold. You should be able to harvest carrots under the mulch into winter as long as the ground doesn't freeze. Root crops planted in the ground are more successfully protected than those planted in raised beds.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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