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Published: Friday, 10/10/2003

Pesky beetles overrun area, cause nuisance


They may look like the pleasant ladybugs children like to play with, but people are reacting to them more like a plague of locusts.

Harmonia axyridis, commonly called Asian lady beetles, have made their annual, irritating appearance in the region.

The pesky orange-and-black beetles look a lot like Ohio's state insect, the native convergent lady beetles, and they eat many of the same foods - damaging insects such as aphids, scale insects, and other pests.

But the Asian beetle has the reputation of invading homes and even biting.

Keith Hohenshell, owner of the Safeway Pest Control, 2902 Boxwood Rd., said the swarms this autumn are not as bad as years past.

“Right now, everybody is seeing them because they hibernate, and now they are trying to get into the houses,” Mr. Hohenshell said. “They will congregate, usually around the sunny side of the house, and get in through any little cracks that they can.”

Mr. Hohenshell said some of the homes that he treats for the pest can be infested with thousands of the beetle.

Adult Asian lady beetles, which can live up to three years, range in color from yellow to red. Some have spots, and some don't.

When disturbed, they release a foul-smelling fluid. And if smashed, their blood can stain walls, drapery, or clothing.

Eating aphids and other pests is the beetles' endearing quality. As recently as 20 years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was importing the beetles from the area where Russia, Korea, and China meet and releasing them in agricultural areas.

One such release was in Ohio's Cuyahoga and Lake counties.

In the fall, the beetles tend to take shelter in the walls of heated buildings.

According to Ohio State University, Asian lady beetles were first released in the United States in 1916 to combat tree-feeding aphids and scale insects in California. They were released again in the 1970s and 1980s in Ohio and other states.

Several years ago, people started to complain the bugs were entering structures.

To keep the beetles out of homes or businesses, people are advised to seal the cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, and other openings.

If the beetles make it indoors, pick them up by hand and dispose of them or suck them up with a vacuum cleaner.

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