LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Have you noticed an inordinate amount of ladybugs around lately?
It’s to be expected, according to Jennifer Frye, an invertebrate ecologist at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
“This is something that’s been happening more and more in the last couple of decades,” she says.
But these aren’t American insects. They are actually Asia natives that were first introduced to America in the early 1900s to control aphids, otherwise known as plant lice. The population began thriving here in the 1980s.
“They’ve saved farmers a lot of money, crop farmers, because they’re eating a lot of the aphids,” Frye says. “But they’ve also become a big pest to homeowners and seem to have displaced most of our native species of ladybugs, as well.”
The ladybugs, though normally regarded as one of the more adorable and harmless bug species, can be pesky because they have been known to nest in homes over the winter months.
While American ladybugs normally spend the colder part of the year under tree bark or fallen leaves, ladybugs native to Asia usually spend the winter in the crevices of rock outcrops. For them, nestling into the walls of human homes comes more naturally than mimicking the approach of their American counterparts, according to Frye.
She says you are more likely to notice the bugs around this time of year, when it starts getting cold, and around March, when it begins to warm up.
And while a ladybug “infestation” may only consist of a few dozen ladybugs, it could also be a few thousand, Frye says.