Tuesday, October 20, 2009

They Stink. They Bite. They Swarm.

Close-up of a Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle that landed on my jeans

And today is the day they invaded the earth...or so it seems. My sister-in-law in Indiana told me they saw their fist invaders today. People here in Central Pennsylvania have been telling me they've noticed the invasion today for the first time this fall.

What are they? They're often mistakenly called ladybugs, but these are no ordinary "ladybird beetles", though they do look similar. These are the "Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles", or Harmonia axyridis. H. axyridis was introduced to the United States in the late 1970's as a biological control agent, and feeds on such pests as aphids and scales. You can read more about these beetles here, or do an internet search and find a plethora of sites on the subject.

View of the house from our garage...you can see the air is filled with swarming beetles!

One article that I read dealing with these beetles stated that the beetles do not bite or sting. Huh? Either I've got a different kind of beetle swarming here, or the person writing that article hasn't been under siege by these beetles. If what I'm feeling isn't a bite, I'd sure like to know what on earth that sensation is!

Part of the garage being overrun by beetles

Today while doing chores, I felt like I was living in a horror film. The beetles were swarming all over the garage and chicken coop, and when I'd get near those areas, I'd be instantly covered with beetles. They have a peculiar smell, and they crawl all over the place, including under my clothes where I'd often be on the receiving end of a bite (or whatever that is!). The chickens didn't seem to be interested in ingesting any of these creatures, sadly.

I can only hope that they do indeed annihilate aphids, scales and psyllids, because anything this annoying certainly must have some special purpose in life.

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