Bugs be gone!

By Reggie brown

Every year, multi-colored Asian lady beetles invade DeKalb and find their way into backpacks, bathrooms and people’s hair.

“I hate those things; they fly on your clothes and sometimes you don’t notice them, but when you get to your room they fall off and crawl all over your stuff,” said business administration major Charles Brown.

Journalism major Chris Cason feels the beetles are also very irritating.

“They were all over my room last year,” he said.

Killing the Asian beetles is a simple task but has some drawbacks.

“They leave a real sour, spoiled milk smell when you kill them,” Cason said.

Asian lady beetles have very distinct features that make it easy to see how they are different from ladybugs. Ladybugs typically are red with either large or small black dots on their back.

“The Asian lady beetles are typically yellow to reddish-orange in color and have 19 black spots on their back,” said Phil Nixon, University of Illinois entomologist . “The spots can be large or small, and behind the head of the beetle there is a white plate with the letter “M” on it.”

Asian lady beetles do bite, but it is nothing to rush to the emergency room over.

“A bite feels like a little pinch,” Nixon said. “They are noticeable, but they don’t break the skin. A bite won’t hurt unless 30 to 40 of them bite you at one time.”

Nixon said the beetles don’t cause any significant damage to crops, and they actually benefit farmers because they control the aphid population.

The dry conditions Illinois has experienced this summer has, unfortunately for people’s hair, added even more Asian lady beetles to the area.

“Dry weather actually increases their numbers because a smaller amount of them will be attacked by fungi that thrive during wet weather,” Nixon said. “Dry conditions don’t cause the population to rise. Just fewer of them die.”

Asian lady beetles are greatest in numbers during the spring and summer months.

The lady beetles fortunate enough to find shelter during the winter months live for up to one year, Nixon said. The beetles look for protective places to enter such as the edges of building windows or doors.

Last winter, several thousand of the Asian lady beetles found their way into the stairwells of Grant residence halls and used it as shelter from the cold.

Beetles finding shelter during the winter months are not normally destructive.

“The beetles don’t cause damage because they utilize already existing openings, such as the cracks of housing windows and doors,” Nixon said.

There are ways to prevent Asian lady beetles from finding shelter in your home. Nixon suggested caulking cracks and crevices in windows and doors as a possible solution. He also lists insecticidal soap and lady beetle light traps as very effective ways of stopping intrusion.