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Dallas Morning News - August 3, 2017


News Flash! New insect in town with disturbing infestations of these creatures terrorizing Texas. So says some of the news coverage lately anyway. These dire warnings are about spotted orange beetles that look like ladybugs - but they are not! They are nuisance imposters! They are Asian beetle introductions and much more dangerous than our helpful little ladybugs. While ladybugs are completely harmless, these mean Asian beetles can bite and try to feed on humans! These creatures are dangerous to dogs, taste bad if squashed and can ruin taste of fruit and other crops. They must be weally wascally nasty beasts!

Only one problem with this overblown reporting – the bugs are really are not a big deal. The Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis is native to Asia (China, Russia, Korea, Japan), but has been here some time being imported in the 60’s to help with aphid control on crops. Everyone reading this has probably seen these insects and didn’t know they weren’t our friendly native ladybugs.

The imports are actually a little too friendly. They like to come inside, being attracted to illuminated areas and light colored walls. They come in mostly in the fall and early winter obviously obviously enjoying the warmth in winter. Some have solid colors that range from bright red to soft yellows and even light tans. If they bother you indoors, control is easy. Vacuum them up or scoop them with a stiff piece of paper and toss ‘em outside. They are greatly helpful in eating and controlling pest insects. The non-killing organic repellents work well if there are too many on your food crops.

It is said that they will eat and damage fruit occasionally, but I’ve only seen them in holes pecked by birds. They do smell bad if smashed, so don’t do that. Our native ladybeetles smell bad too. Also taste bad. Don’t believe me? Lick youR finger, touch a native ladybug and the taste your finger. Nothing dangerous about it. The bad taste is a defensive mechanism that all lady beetles have. Birds don’t like the taste either.

I’m suspicious that this newly found concern is related to new pesticides on the market that are labeled specifically for the control of Asian lady beetles.

My favorite among the misguided quotes about these helpful critters is this one. In many areas of the U.S., these autumn invasions are such a nuisance that they affect quality of life. Please! I strongly advise that you enjoy all the ladybugs.

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