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Asian lady beetles, other nuisance pests on the march as temps cool off

Multicolored Asian lady beetles congregate on a screen in East Grand Forks, Minn., Monday, Oct. 9. The insects have been showing up in large numbers in the region this year. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service1 / 2
To prevent Asian lady beetles from overwintering in homes, Robert Derrick of Complete Pest Control sprays exterior walls to stop the pests. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service2 / 2

GRAND FORKS — This month's cooler temperatures may have slowed the buzz of pesky yellow jackets, but area exterminators say the march is still on for other pests trying to creep indoors before the season's first hard freeze.

"The Asian lady beetles are going nuts right now," said Shawn Erickson of Erickson Pest Control. "The past three weeks have been extremely busy. This time of year, they're at their peak. Once the nights start to cool down, there are three species that change their habits."

The main culprits now are the Asian beetles, cluster flies — more commonly known as attic flies or striped-wing flies — and box elder bugs.

"There's not much that can be done for them when they're inside," Erickson said. "The best thing to do then is just vacuum them up."

Erickson said the first mistake residents might make is waiting too long to make a call. As soon as it gets cooler, the insects will gather on the warmer exterior of homes and wait for their chance to crawl through the cracks and crevices around doors, windows, siding, soffits and attic vents.

"Any way they can find their way in, they're looking for a place to overwinter," he said. "Once they're in the walls, some of them will come out of dormancy and find their way into the house."

The pest

The lady beetle was imported from Asia in the early 1900s to help naturally control the aphid population, which was damaging crops.

A website called ladybuglady.com said the beetles look similar to native ladybugs and can appear with and without spots. Their colors can range from red, orange and dull cream.

Unlike the native variety, however, the Asian beetles "have been known to swarm and even bite when seeking shelter for the winter months," according to the website.

Erickson and fellow exterminator Robert Derrick of Complete Pest Control said although the best time to prevent an infestation is to treat a home's exterior as soon as it begins to cool, it's not too late to seek help.

"What we do when they've already emerged inside people's homes is give them relief," Derrick said. "We'll treat those soffits and siding and windows and that will leave residual to kill these insects."

Even though treatment might not completely eradicate the pests if they've already bored inside the walls, Erickson said it certainly can lessen the problem.

"Doing something now is better than doing nothing," he said. "People will see fewer insects in the home over the winter if we can treat it now."

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