Official State Insect of Ohio
Ladybugs are members of the Coccinellidae family of beetles (Order Coleoptera). The Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens, is Ohio’s official state insect. It is also the most common ladybug. Ladybugs are a very popular insect in Ohio, especially with children. They were made the State of Ohio’s official state insect for its beautiful markings and for the fact that they feed on important agricultural pests.
Ladybirds or Ladybugs?
We call them Ladybugs, even though they are not a True Bug (Order Hemiptera). We are the only country to call them ladybugs. Everywhere outside of the United States, ladybugs are called ladybirds, or lady beetles.
There are many species of ladybugs in Ohio, some are native, some are not. They have voracious appetites for soft bodied insects. Both the larvae and adults feed on other arthropods. Eggs are laid near a food source, most commonly in aphid colonies. Ladybugs primarily eat aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, whitefly, thrips, mites and eggs of the Colorado potato beetle and European corn borer. The insects that ladybugs prey on are considered major pests of agriculture and of the landscape. Since ladybugs feed on these harmful plant feeding insects, many consider them to be beneficial insects.
An average ladybug can eat around 4000 aphids in their lifetime. Each larva consume an average of 400 aphids. For this reason they are often used as a biological control against soft bodied insect pests. The have earned the nickname “Gardener’s Best Friend” for good reason.
Ladybugs Inside Your Home
Ladybugs can be fun to have around the garden. The multicolored Asian ladybird beetle, Harmonia axyridis, was introduced to the United States as a biological control against aphids and scale insects. Thanks to this species, we not only do you get to enjoy ladybugs in our gardens, within your homes as well!
Since the early 1990’s, enough of these beetles to be considered a nuisance were found congregating on windows, doors, and porch decks. Ever since then they have inundated our homes from October through April. In their native home of Japan, they overwinter in crevices of rock outcroppings and along cliffs. In Ohio, they mimic this habit by finding shelter to overwinter within the crevices of our homes. The multicolored Asian ladybird beetle is attracted to the south and southwest sides of structures that are warmed by the heat of the sun. Once a sunny warm day follows a cold night, right around the first of October, these pests will congregate looking for crevices to crawl into. It is very difficult to control this pest once tens of thousands are inside your home.
Problems Resulting from Ladybird Beetle Infestations
The multicolored Asian Ladybird beetle is a nuisance pest. During the warm sunny days of winter they come out of their hiding places. As they enter the living space they collect around windows. They will even land on occupants of the structure. This species of lady beetle will bite. Bites cause pain and can cause a skin reaction to sensitive individuals. It is also to note that since they overwinter in such large numbers, carcasses accumulate within structures. The presence of these insects, along with accumulated carcasses, are known to cause sinus irritations for exposed occupants. When crushed they give off a foul odor and the resulting body fluids can stain surfaces. It is beneficial to vacuum, or remove by hand, any ladybug found inside.
Controlling Multicolored Asian Ladybird Beetles
The best way to control ladybugs in the home is to exclude them from coming into the home to begin with. Sealing cracks and crevices in which they may enter should not be done while there is a presence inside. Delay sealing a home until May in Ohio and do not seal them in after September. High grade sealants should be used for smaller entry points. Foam is not recommended as a stand alone product for exclusion. It is helpful to fill voids and as a backer material. Rodents can chew or scratch their way through foam repairs; allowing ladybugs to gain new access to the structure. Foam can be covered with sealant. Sheet metal, copper mesh, mortar, or Xcluder fabric can be used for a strong long lasting repair. Soffit vents, roof vents and crawlspace vents should have aluminum or fiberglass screening to prevent insect entry into the structure.
Alternatively, chemical controls can be used to control ladybugs as they congregate on the exterior of the structure. Apply pesticides according to Label directions. Most store bought pesticides are pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are repellent by nature, which will reduce the amount of ladybirds from entering the structure. Lakewood Exterminating uses control products that consist of essential oils. Most essential oils used in pest control are also repellents. They kill on contact and have a residual that lasts long enough to span the time period in which ladybugs enter the home.
Once ladybugs are inside of a home, total eradication of the population is unlikely. Dust formulations injected into the voids in which they inhabit are long lasting and effective if all the right voids are reached. Lakewood Exterminating only uses Tier 3 toxicity and minimum risk dusts. Dust applications are confined to unoccupied areas and wall voids. Attics and upper level crawlspaces are areas to focus control measures. They will often enter through vents and gaps between siding and chimneys. If there is no air circulation being transferred into occupied areas from infested attics and other accessible voids, then the use of dichlorvos, DDVP, pest control products may be an option. These products kill through a vapor action. Again these products must only be used if properly labeled for your situation. ALWAYS READ THE PESTICIDE LABEL BEFORE USING ANY PESTICIDE.
Powder Traps are a good nontoxic option for ladybugs that accumulate around windows. These traps are structured with the insects’ natural habits in mind. Lures attract ladybugs into the traps. A powder within the trap acts in a similar way as quicksand. Insects drop through the powder, eliminating the ladybugs inside your living space through a mechanical control process.
Ladybugs in Ohio are a diverse species. They are considered beneficial insects of agricultural importance. Ladybugs are used as biological controls due to their diet of destructive plant pests. While their beauty is admired by many, imported species may cause damage. The multicolored Asian ladybird beetle can become a nuisance inside the home. This species can be considered invasive due to competition with smaller native species of ladybugs.