Halloween lady beetles making home visits
Around Halloween, some uninvited guests may make a surprise appearance at your home.
The multicolored Asian lady beetle (also known as the Halloween beetle) starts finding suitable hibernating sites during late October and November.
This colorful lady beetle has shiny yellow or orange or red wing covers and a distinctive "M" marking behind the head.
"Like other lady beetles, this one eats aphids and other soft-bodied insects and is a beneficial insect when outdoors," said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Greene County.
The Halloween lady beetle congregates in large groups on sunny sides of light-colored rocks or structures where it seeks protected crevices -- or enters a building through cracks, vents or other openings -- to spend the winter.
"The best way to avoid invasion by the Halloween lady beetle is to tighten up your house. Caulk or seal cracks, cover attic and exhaust vents with insect screening, fix holes in window screens (making sure they fit snugly), and put sweeps and thresholds on exterior doors," said Byers.
If the Halloween lady beetle does make it inside, Byers recommends gently sweeping them up and then relocating them outside.
A handy collection sack can be made by placing a knee-high nylon stocking in the vacuum hose, folding over the top of the stocking and securely fastening it to the outside of the hose.
"When you turn off the vacuum, remove the bag quickly so the captured beetles don't escape. They can be released outdoors in leaf litter or other sheltered places," said Byers.
For more information on the Asian (Halloween) lady beetle contact your local MU Extension Center and request a copy of guide sheet G7369, "Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle," or G7368, "Household-Invading Beetles." These publications are also available online at http://extension.missouri.edu.