Ladybugs are cute, right? My daughters and I love them — when they're outside, that is. But last fall, I experienced a bizarre phenomenon: a minor ladybug infestation in my kitchen! I was a little weirded out by how many there were (maybe a dozen) and the fact that I kept discovering them for months. I was worried they might spread disease or eat through the pantry, so I decided to take my ladybug quandary to the pros.
Here's what you should know about ladybugs, according to an expert.
5 Things You Should Know About Ladybugs
1. Ladybugs are relatively friendly pests.
Entomologist and Orkin Technical Services Manager Chelle Hartzer assured me that my ladybug infestation was pretty harmless. Ladybugs don't carry disease, and don't eat your food or building materials (they prefer aphids and mealy bugs in your garden). Since they're headed inside to go to sleep, they also aren't going to buzz around like a crazy housefly dragging bacteria from place to place.
2. Ladybugs hibernate in cold weather.
Finding ladybugs in your kitchen or elsewhere in your home is actually pretty normal when it's cold outside. "Lady beetles like to find a space to go dormant in the winter," says Hartzer. They get in through open doors, cracks along window frames, and holes in screens. Hey, it's warm inside — so they hunker down.
3. Ladybugs attract other ladybugs.
"Once they find a good spot, they send out a pheromone to let other lady beetles know where they are," says Hartzer. This means once you spot one, you're likely to find others.
4. Your best defense is a good offense.
As you head into fall and winter, take a look around your home to make sure it's sealed up tight. If it is, chances are those ladybugs will look for a cozy home in someone else's house.
5. Ladybugs are easy to catch.
Once they're inside your house, ladybugs are not very active. That means you should be able to gentle sweep them into a plastic container or bag, then release them outside. (Bonus if you have a garden, as they eat garden pests). If you're not sentimental about the ladybugs, use a vacuum attachment to suck them up and out of your life. This can be a good way to get hard-to-reach ones, but will likely kill them in the process.