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A healthy outdoor ladybug population is a good thing. Gardeners appreciate their voracious appetite for the destructive likes of aphids and scale, while kids of all ages can’t resist counting the spots on their bright bodies. Yet too many coccinellidae—especially if they’ve made their way into your living space—is a sign of potential infestation. The little beetles generally enter homes to hibernate over the winter and can multiply by the thousands, ultimately emerging from the wall structure as an overwhelming nuisance. So don’t be lulled by their cuteness! Debug your place with these techniques.
GET LOST, LADYBUGS!
Due diligence is required to send the pests packing. Remove the ones you see inside immediately with any or all of these effective methods.
Vacuum with vigilance. Notice ladybugs in your domicile? Vacuum them up without delay, then dispose of the bag or empty it outside. You can avoid that messy chore, if you own a canister model with a hose, with this trick: Cut the foot section off an old sock and attach it to the end of the hose with a rubber band. Turn the vacuum on, and the fabric will enter the hose (but not the bag). As you suck up ladybugs, they’ll get caught in the sock attachment—then simply remove the sock and empty it outside.
Turn on a light trap. If ladybugs have infested a dark area, like an attic, use a light trap. Purchase one for about $35 or DIY your own out of a plastic jug, a light bulb, and transparencies typically used for overhead projectors. Once trapped, release the ladybugs outdoors.
Get professional help. If the pest problem is already severe, call a pest control pro to get rid of ladybugs. Over-the-counter insecticides aren’t recommended to control ladybug infestations, but exterminators know what to use and how to use it.
Keep your hands off. Though ladybugs don’t bite or carry disease, you should avoid picking them up individually with your fingers, or even sweeping them into a dustpan. When stressed, ladybugs secrete their blood, a yellow, smelly substance that can stain skin, fabrics, and painted surfaces.
STAY AWAY, LADYBUGS!
In fall, ladybugs look for warmth—and your house is an inviting prospect. They’ll enter through any hole, crack, or gap they can find. Keep ladybugs at bay with these preventive measures.
Fix screens. Repair breaks or tears in all screens and don’t leave doors or windows without screens open.
Install weather stripping. Gaps under doors make an easy entry point for ladybugs. Weather stripping on all doors is an excellent barrier (and it helps keep your energy bill down, too).
Seal gaps. Apply high quality silicone caulk to exterior cracks and crevices, in any gaps in your siding, and around window frames, doorframes, and utility pipes. Ladybugs can also enter through cracks in mortar, so if your home is of brick construction, check the pointing and repair with mortar or cement where necessary.