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Asian beetles invading homes as fall arrives

A beetle invasion has taken over Hubbard County. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home!

If you have been inundated by the orange and black critters, your misery has company.

An epic invasion of the critters alternately called Japanese beetles, Asian beetles and something unprintable, has arrived.

"I doubt they're Japanese beetles," said University of Minnesota Extension entomologist Jeff Hahn. "There is a species called multi-colored Asian lady beetles that come inside homes. I think because they come from the same general area of the world, sometimes people call them Japanese beetles."

Glad that is now figured out.

"There are two Japanese beetles. There's green and feeds on grapes and lindens and birch and roses and things like that, Hahn said. "That's not what these are doing.

"They can bite," he added. "That is something that's different about our run-of-the-mill lady beetles. They will not do that to people.

"These will land. What they think they're getting out of us, I'm not sure, but it's not a bite like a bedbug or a mosquito, but they will kind of gnaw on us hoping they will find some food and I know they can break the skin."

TMI! (Too much information.)

"These are insects that are in the garden, soybean fields, in woods," Hahn said. "They're feeding on aphids and are quite content to do that."

Normally, a person wouldn't notice them, but when they invade in hordes...

"When we get to fall time, they can sense when this is occurring, they know that to escape being out in the open when wintertime comes they need to find somewhere protected and sheltered," Hahn said.

In the woods they'll look for trees with loose bark to snuggle up into.

"In an urban area, homes do just fine," Hahn said. "On warm sunny days they're going to fly to homes, buzzing all over, and as they land, a lot of them are going to look for spaces and gaps and nooks and crannies to wedge themselves into. Some will get inside and people will deal with them in the fall.

"Others will get into and stay in a wall void or attic that will stay cold and they'll be dormant. Now that will last only until we get some mild winter weather and it will trick them into thinking spring is here, they'll wake up and go to the warmth."

So in January, a whole new invasion could march out of the woodwork.

Numerous home remedies have been proposed on the Enterprise's Facebook news feed, the obvious being to spray gallons of Home Defense around a home.

Other suggestions have taken a more humorous approach.

One friend suggested free delivery of vacuum bags full of them.

Another suggested, since they are Panther colors, enhancing last week's homecoming with the school colors. A ceremonial drop during half-time?

"It's a two-step process," Hahn suggested.

Step one: sealing up every crack in the foundation, supplemented by insecticide sprays. (Step 2)

"You want to be spraying around windows and doors, where utility lines come in, places where they might be able to find their way into the home," Hahn suggested.

"We have them every year and certainly there will be years when we have them more abundant than others. We did have a really warm summer and I'm getting a lot of calls about boxelder bugs right now. They like hot and dry summers."

Warm weather enhances the bugs' ability to reproduce.

Cold weather could send them packing - unless...

"If it warms up we could continue to see more until it gets cold and stays cold," Hahn said.

"You can do the right things and still have problems with them," he suggested.

Like a horror movie with no ending... "People could be plagued with them until spring. Once they get into the house, removal with a vacuum cleaner is about all you can do."

Some suggestions have included putting a chemical into the vacuum cleaner bag; others suggest sealing the vacuum hose so they can't crawl out.

"That's a good tip." Hahn said. "Just because you vacuum them up doesn't mean they'll stay there."

He suggests a nylon stocking over the hose unit.

"They're primarily a nuisance," he said. "They can bite you, even break the skin, but they're not purposely biting you like a bedbug or a flea. This is more incidental. They can give off a bad smell, which doesn't help things and they have a liquid that is a defensive mechanism so they can stain surfaces they land on."

For those who have bug phobias, Hahn suggests these aren't so bad, compared to a cockroach invasion.

"It just depends on how abundant they get."

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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