Why Kill the Asian Lady Beetles?

A lot of people have told me lately that they are ‘saving’ the ‘ladybugs’ in their house to ‘help the farmers’. I am sorry, but are you nuts???

Like wine? Clean food and air? The roof over your head? Then read on!

Melissa Watkins's photo.

FYI folks: These are not traditional lady bugs, but a species known as Harmonia axyridis (Asian Lady Beetle, Harlequin Ladybug, Multicolored Lady Beetle, among others) that was introduced by the USDA and chemical companies into the Midwest in the 1990s. Reportedly, Asian Lady Beetles have heavily fed on soybean aphids (yet another happy little pest introduction from the USDA chemical companies), supposedly saving farmers vast sums of money. However, most farmers I have talked to never see them and neither do their crop scouts. But guess what they do see? Lots of aphids!  What do they do?   Spray just as heavily as before.

Er, ok, so where are the little Asian Lady Beetles if they are not in the field?

If you grow grapes, cherries, or any type of berry, you already have the answer…

images 2imagesIMGA0401

(Photos used with permission of the Universities of Illinois, Minnesota, and California Extensions, respectively)

To read more on this issue, check out Influence of Berry Injury on Infestations of the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle in Wine Grapes over at the Plant Management Network site.

So now you are saying, well, Mertie, that’s great and all, but why should I kill them in my house?

1. They get into food, leave their waste products on your plates, and stain fabric. Eat one and you will never let another live.  As a person that has the misfortune of having them live in the home during the winter, I can tell you that we have at least a couple episodes happen each winter. Most recently I ate one in a grilled cheese. I had four sandwiches to make, and in that small window of prep time, one snuck in. YUCK!

2. They bite and many people have allergic reactions.  It’s like getting a mosquito bite if not allergic, but much worse if you are (a Facebook friend from MN recently had anaphylaxic shock from a bite).

3. Over years, they become a fire hazard. How? Check the insulation in your home. Believe it or not, their dead little carcasses (because most that come in die in your home) are very flammable. Chalk this up to life experience on the time my Grandpa swept them up by the 5 gallon pails and put them out on the burning pile…

4. The bacteria that lives on their dead carcasses is harmful to humans.  The substances cadaverine and putrescine are produced during the decomposition of Asian Lady Beetles and transported throughout the home via ductwork..  A 2005 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Human Health found a fourfold increase in cadaverine and putrescine in homes in Iowa with high levels of dead Asian Lady Beetles (in excess of 100 bugs per cubic meter of the home; it is estimated that many homes in rural areas of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota far exceed 100 bugs per cubic meter).  This would put the levels well above recommended levels within a home

Feel like saving those bugs now?


2 thoughts on “Why Kill the Asian Lady Beetles?

  1. We always spray at our home, but have friends that do not. They are tidy people and are always killing them with homemade traps contaning vinegar. Despite that, when we go to visit them, seems like you always bring home a bug or two.

  2. These ‘ladybugs’ destroyed my peppers this year and then were working on the squash flowers and tomatoes that had split. We are in Nebraska and the farmers with soybeans don’t see them in the field either. What a joke! Sounds like Monsanto f***** up big time on this one!

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