Here today, here tomorrow

by Olivia Fowler

As this is being written, there is a ladybug crawling up the cord connected to the computer. It is just one among many which typically cluster in groups on the chandelier and on the walls and ceiling of our dining room.

We find it somewhat disconcerting to be seated at the table and watch ladybugs drop from the chandelier arms into the spaghetti, especially since they are hard to see in the sauce.

Although it’s no comfort to know these particular ladybugs are not native to our country, it should be noted that native ladybugs do not share some of this import’s bad habits.

The Japanese ladybug, sometimes called the harlequin if you’re in Great Britain, was introduced to our shores 25 years ago to help control aphids on crops.

They’re larger than native ladybugs and come in a variety of colors and a different number of spots.

And, according to whom you speak, they are viewed as either helpful bugs or as pests.

We agree with those who regard this little bug with disapproval, and with good reason.

Yes, they do eat aphids and scaly bugs and help protect a number of crops from these infestations. But they also secrete a toxic substance which affects grapes and alters the flavor of wines made from grapes from vineyards with Japanese ladybug infestations.

In the south, they don’t go dormant in cold weather but move inside the house, usually gathering on the side with the best sun exposure. They also bite. Some people have an allergic reaction to them and break out when bitten.

In our dining room, they enjoy gathering inside the rod pockets of our curtains, where they die. It’s impossible to get them out. When squashed they emit a foul odor and a fluid that stains whatever they’re squashed against.

They dominate the ladybug world and are diminishing the population of native ladybugs. They’ve taken over the food supply and have even been known to eat native ladybugs.
We could blame the United States Department of Agriculture for the situation, but the USDA may not be culprit, although the intent was there.

There were several efforts made by the USDA to introduce the Japanese ladybug to our shores, but nobody is certain any of these attempts were successful.

Be that as it may, they are here now and in great numbers. It is believed that colonization attempts by the USDA failed and that the bugs established themselves by accident.

It has been suggested by the bug experts that the best way to remove this bug from the home is to take a nylon knee high and stick the foot part into the hose of your vacuum cleaner and, using a rubber band, secure the top of the knee high around the outside edge of the hose. When the knee high has been filled it can be removed and the bugs can be disposed of. Now, bear in mind, it doesn’t say how to dispose of them. Use your imagination. It is recommended that care is used not to squash the bugs while getting rid of them to avoid the noxious odor they produce.

Regardless of what the experts say, it may just be best to learn to live with this bug. We think they’ll be around long after we are gone.