Friday, 8 November 2013

Grab the vacuum: Ladybugs overwhelm parts of U.S. Southeast

By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - Millions of ladybugs are invading homes and businesses in parts of the U.S. eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast this fall, causing headaches for residents who are fighting the invasion with vacuum cleaners that suck up the insects.

While harmless to humans, masses of the multi-colored invaders are a nuisance as they slip indoors through cracks around doors and windows. Plus they can stain curtains, upholstery and walls if squashed.

A spike in the ladybug population is typical this time of year as they fly out of the farm fields where they help control other insects and seek a warm place to spend the winter.

A mild winter followed by a rainy spring in the east and south created the perfect environment for the species, known as the multicolored Asian lady beetle, to flourish in larger-than-usual numbers in some areas, said David Cook, an entomologist for the University of Tennessee and an extension agent in Nashville.

"It was a perfect insect storm," he said. "They're cute, but no one wants a lot of cute."

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