Ladybugs Swarming South Region In “Perfect Insect Storm”

Ladybugs are swarming homes in the south after many entomologists predicted the “perfect insect storm” in parts of Tennessee, and it’s typical that these bugs fly in groups in autumn when temperatures start to drop.

“We have perfect weather conditions, and a large food population,” David Cook, an entomologist and Davidson County Extension Agent, told in Nashville, Tenn. “This is a perfect insect storm.”

Cook said that, as temperatures drop, the Asian Lady Beetles are simply looking for warmth and shelter. And they’re especially drawn to light colored structures. In winter, ladybugs find places to ”hibernate.” They’ve even been known to survive being frozen in blocks of ice. Their life span is about a year.

Of course, when the side of your house is suddenly blanketed by beetles, who crawl en masse into cracks and seep indoors, it can be disconcerting.

“There were probably one million of them,” Diane Stroud of Lebanon, Tenn. told WTVF-TV.  “They were all over the porch, the far side of the house, everything was covered.”

None of the 6,000 or so species of Coccinellidae family beetles found worldwide (including the 450 species in North America) are considered harmful to humans.

“It’s important to note that ladybugs are not structure-damaging pests — if touched or terrified, they can leave small stains as part of a defense reaction known as “reflex bleeding,” which is intended to prevent predators from eating them. But they don’t enjoy meals of wood or fabric as other insects do — and I’ve never suffered a bite, although there some experts who swear they can land a well placed nip or two,” writes Carrie Leber a garden blogger. 

Gardeners in the US tend to appreciate these beetles as beneficial because they eat aphids and other pests.  As the University of Floriday entomology department points out: “Many ladybird species are considered beneficial to humans because they eat phytophagous insects (“pests of plants”, sometimes called “plant pests”), but not all eat pests of plants, and a few are themselves pests.”

Some species of ladybugs eat mealybugs, some eat mites, and at least four species in Florida eat whiteflies. Some even dine on mildew.

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