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October 18, 2013

Ladybugs may seek refuge in your home

PLATTSBURGH — An invasion of ladybugs?

As the weather gets colder, it may seem like it.  

With their reddish hues and black spots, individual ladybugs are colorful and appealing. At the approach of winter, however, one species seeks refuge indoors — which can be disconcerting to homeowners.

“They can appear in large numbers,” explained Amy Ivy, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County.

There are several species of native ladybugs (also called lady beetles) in the North Country, along with one non-native species: the Asian multicolored ladybug, she said.

Ladybugs hibernate during the winter, and while the native species hibernate outdoors, burying themselves for protection, the Asian multicolored ladybug prefers to take its long, long nap in buildings.

“The story I’ve heard about the Asian multicoloreds is that they were released in the central U.S. to control aphids in pecans and that they have moved up here,” Ivy said. 

“They seem particularly bad north of Plattsburgh, like in Chazy, where there are alfalfa and hay fields. Perhaps they are thriving on the pests in the fields.” 

Ivy noted, however, that this was merely an observation. 

“It’s not a total cause and effect because they do fly,” so they are not necessarily bound by a particular area of food supply.

AN INCONVENIENCE

Dorie Sweeny of Beekmantown visited her family camp on Chazy Lake in Dannemora recently to find the basement covered in ladybugs. 

She swept them from the floor, counters and windowsills and even found a few upstairs in the sink and toaster. Neighbors in the area have also been vacuuming up ladybugs.

“This is a mystery to me,” Sweeney said.

Though temperatures haven’t reached freezing point yet at the camp, she said about 75 percent of the beetles were dead.

“My sister-in-law cleaned up the floor a week before with two dustpans full of ladybugs,” Sweeney said. “Usually, it happens over winter but this is ridiculous.”

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