Monday, November 12, 2007

Return of the Ladybugs

Imagine you're standing outside during the winter's first gentle snowstorm. Snowflakes, widely spaced but falling steadily, drift slowly down all around you. In passing, some cling to your hair and clothes.

Now, imagine the same image, except that the snowflakes are drifting sideways instead of down. And instead of being snowflakes, they are ladybugs. That's what happened in our yard today.

The ladybugs are back.

These aren't the ladybugs I grew up with back home in Maine, where to sight one of the shiny ruby colored bugs was considered lucky. These, I've been told, are some imported variety that has taken over in this environment. They are a dull rusty orange color, and they come in SWARMS.

They crawl into any crack or crevice they can find, to hibernate in the walls of older buildings for the winter. But they don't stay asleep. They find their way through the walls by the hundreds and swarm all over any sunny window in the house. You can vacuum them off the window, and five minutes later, just as many more have crawled out of the wall to replace them.

They fly erratic loops around the rooms and get stuck in your hair---and if you're very unlucky, your food. They crash into the bulb of the halogen floor lamp and burn. They crawl everywhere, including between the sheets of your bed. They crunch underfoot like popcorn. And they STINK!

As you can tell, I've come to really dislike these creatures. It seems that all old houses in this part of Virginia have them. We had them at the previous house we were renting too. But, unless I'm willing to spray my house full of pesticides, there doesn't seem to be any way to get rid of them.

I've endured the ladybug problem ever since we moved to Virginia eight years ago. But this is the first time I've actually seen them arrive. It was kind of creepy. I'd never really thought about it. I guess I'd always just sort of assumed that the bugs were around in the environment all summer long, and just came into the house for the winter.

But today, when we were outside in the yard, the ladybugs were clearly swarming here from elsewhere. You could see them from a distance, flying in that gentle erratic motion, like snowflakes, but the sky was full of them. Dozens of them kept getting caught in our hair, clinging to our clothes, trying to crawl in our ears and eyes and nose. YUCK!

Thousands of them were clinging to the walls of our barn, crawling up under the clapboards. Which is fine with me. Every one of them that decides to hibernate in the walls of the barn is one that isn't hibernating in the walls of the house.

So for all of you who order packages of ladybugs from gardening catalogs so they'll eat the aphids off your rose bushes: STOP! Don't pay good money for more ladybugs that are all going to leave your garden to fly to my house for the Great Ladybug Convention. Just come get the old already-trained ladybugs that you bought last year. They're all here... all you have to do is come pick them up!


Anonymous said...

LOL! So true though! Those Asian Lady Beetles are a menace! Good Luck!

Meggie said...

I was going to say the same thing...they sound like a type of beetle that I've read so much about. I get them in my old farmhouse by the windows, but nothing like you experience.

Kristine said...

LOVE your post. We moved to SW VA this summer, and I've never seen ladybugs like this. It sounds like we don't even have it *bad* yet! I googled "ladybug swarms Virginia" and found your post. Thanks for the warning . . . I think, lol! (Maybe that's what happened to your computer?)

Nancy Chase said...

Hi Kristine, welcome to Virginia. I read some of your blog, and a lot of it reminds me of how we felt after we moved here... getting used to new things, but also excited to be here.

Sorry to say, I'm sure you'll get more well-acquainted with those ladybugs the longer you live here!