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Help! There’s a ladybug in my bed!

“Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly away home…”
Is your house infested with ladybugs? Mine is. They seem to be everywhere I look; attached to the walls, the ceilings and batting around the lightbulbs with a little ‘ping, ping.’
The invasion of the ladybugs has grown over the past few years, a result it seems, of a new breed of ladybug being introduced to the U.S. in an attempt to sell a “natural pest control.” These new ladybugs (known as Asian ladybugs) are marketed as being more aggressive and hearty than the indigenous species – their endearing feature being that they do not die each winter. They hibernate, unlike our own native ladybugs that die when cold weather hits.
These aggressive ladybugs find their way into our homes, swarming around lights, TVs, windows and ceilings. They are seeking a good crack or crevice to crawl into and remain during the colder time of year.
Adorable little creatures, ladybugs are the kind of insect that generally don’t inspire squeals of fear from humans. They’re adorable in the summertime, outside where their cute red bodies with the black dots whimsically flit from flower-to-flower – not inside our homes.
This year seems worse than normal. I awoke one morning this week to find one ladybug perched on the edge of my blanket staring down at me accusingly, another was comfortably snoozing on a throw pillow; I swear I could hear it snoring.
Later as I began undressing for a shower, I heard a tiny little “Oh my goodness!” I looked up to the top of the shower stall where I saw another ladybug, her little arms covering her eyes. At least ladybugs are modest – or are they?
I’ve seen swarms of them and they looked like they were doing the horizontal tango. Apparently, this is another one of their wintertime passions – massive orgies.
When I went to vote on Tuesday in Lexington, where my Ward is at the Methodist Church, I found many relatives of my home invaders perched on tables in the big hall. I had no idea that ladybugs were Methodist. How do you ask a ladybug her religious preference?
While writing this editorial, I was drawn to do a little research on the cute little home invaders and found some interesting statistics:
• There are nearly 5,000 different species of ladybugs worldwide, 400 of which live in North America [at least 200 of them are hanging out at my house].
• A female ladybug will lay more than 1,000 eggs in her lifetime – are they free-range eggs?
• A ladybug beats its wings 85 times a second when it flies – okay, who counted this?
•Aphids are a ladybug’s favorite food – It’s a good thing somebody likes them.
• Ladybugs chew from side-to-side, not up and down like humans do – again I ask, how can you tell? Did a scientist take a ladybug to lunch or out for a romantic dinner with wine, cheese and aphids?
• A gallon jar will hold from 72,000 to 80,000 ladybugs. I want to meet the person who accomplished this counting feat of such massive, yet tiny proportions.
• Ladybugs make a chemical that smells and tastes so terrible that birds and other predators won’t eat them. I just bet we humans won’t either, though my two cats have been eyeballing the little buggers and licking their chops and I know they don’t care what they put in their mouths.
• If you squeeze a ladybug, it will bite you – I guess ladybugs aren’t huggers.
• The spots on a ladybug fade as they age. I want to be a ladybug. My spots are getting darker with age.
• During hibernation, ladybugs feed on their stored fat. If this worked for humans, I’d be skinny again.
• Ladybugs won’t fly if the temperature is below 55 degrees – we have this in common, I don’t fly below that temperature either.
• The male ladybug is usually smaller than the female. There is justice in the world.
• The Asian Lady Beetle can live up to 2-3 years if the conditions are right – apparently, they’re right in my house, and the Methodist Church.
I also found myths and lore of ladybugs. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, insects were destroying crops so Catholic farmers began praying to the Virgin Mary for help. She sent ladybugs, who came and ate the plant-destroying pests – saving the crops. See, God does have a sense of humor!
It seems we can eliminate the need for a dentist as long as there are ladybugs around. According to ladybug lore, at one time doctors would mash up ladybugs and put them in a cavity to cure a toothache. It’s also a way to hit the insurance industry hard. “Hello Mrs. Johnson, do you still have Delta Dental?” “No, I have ladybug dental.”
I also wanted to know how to rid my home of these annoying little creatures and found that the best way is to be sure cracks and crevices around doors and windows are sealed tight. Ladybugs tend to enter on the south side of the home, so focus on that side when sealing possible entries.
Be sure not to squeeze (or hug) the little darlings as they emit a foul odor, release yellow drops of blood and may bite!
You can purchase a ladybug blacklight trap. It uses pheromones and UV lights to attract and trap them. You can also vacuum them up, but the idea of massive quantities of ladybugs trapped in my vacuum cleaner plotting to get even with me in the dead of night just gives me the willies.
Apparently the ladybugs we have invading our homes are of the Asian ladybug species. I guess when given the alternative…box elders, spiders, ants, or mice – I would choose ladybugs over other types of home invaders. We’ll just have to learn to live together, even though I am not a Methodist.

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