Asian ladybugs are swarming in the northeast and western US: NPR


Beetles that look like ladybugs are sweeping parts of the country. They can bite, but are they harmful?



DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

If you’ve experienced it, you’ll never forget when cicadas took over the United States earlier this year. They fell from the sky into the sunbathing areas and into the chimneys. But now there’s a new bug swarming the Northeastern and Western United States.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is called the Asian ladybug.

DANIEL GRUNER: Some people call them Halloween beetles because that’s about the time of year you’re going to see them.

INSKEEP: Dr. Daniel Gruner is a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and says these beetles emerge in the fall and then disappear in cold weather. But this year they stayed longer as the weather warms up in some states.

ELLIOTT: You may have seen them and mistaken them for ladybugs, but they’re not insects at all. They are beetles. And although they are red bugs with black spots, you can tell a ladybug from a ladybug by the black M-shape on their heads.

GRUNER: There are thousands of species in the world. This one, as you probably know, is not native to North America. It has been introduced as an introduction many times over the past hundred years from East Asia, from Russia to Japan and Korea.

INSKEEP: I didn’t know that, so I feel lucky that he did. Here is another way they are different from ladybugs. Beetles can bite. But Gruner says there’s nothing to worry about.

GRUNER: They’re more of a nuisance, and in their aggregations they can get into houses. And when alarmed, they release some kind of sticky yellow goo that smells a bit. I wouldn’t call them a threat to public health.

INSKEEP: If you discover them in your home, as I believe you have, Gruner suggests using a sealant to seal the cracks and keep them from getting inside.

ELLIOTT: Gruner says blowing up a bunch of chemicals probably won’t solve the problem. He suggests that you suck them in and then release them into the wild.

(SOUNDBITE OF EMANCIPATOR & CLOUDCHORD’S “TEA SPRINKLES”) [CLARIFICATION:In this piece, we talk about the differences between Asian lady beetles and the better-known black and red ladybugs. But despite the differences, both are classified as beetles and are commonly referred to as ladybugs.]

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