It was a warm fall afternoon following some recent seasonably cooler temperatures. I was sitting on my front porch shelling out some hickory nuts in anticipation of making some coming holiday pies. I was concentrating on the slow, methodical manual nutmeat extraction when I heard what I thought was rain falling. Looking up I saw it was just a gust of wind that had started a plethora of leaves falling to the earth and striking the metal shed roof making the sound of gentle rain falling.
But before I returned to my nutty processes, I spied them.
Like the annual return of the swallows to Capistrano, annual migration of salmon swimming upstream to spawn, or even the return of the 17-year-locust, I determined that they had arrived.
Ladybugs and Asian beetles were swarming about the metal shed. Disturbed from their summer haunts by changing sunlight, or fluctuating temperatures, or having their food source harvested by nearby farmers, the aphid eating beetles were looking for a place to winter over.
Ladybugs are a small red with black spots insect that is a natural predator of soft bodied plant eating insects. Their cousin Asian beetles-imported to help control crop pests- are a dull orange and may or may not have some dark spots.
Neither are really all that harmful but a nuisance. Though my friend Joe once received several bites from the Asian beetles. So be mindful.
Staying in the metal shed is fine by me as opposed to trying to stay in the house with me. I had already used a home insect spray around the windows and doors. It’s one of the variety of water-based home insect sprays for roaches, ants and other crawling creatures available at the hardware or big box store.
From experience I have learned that ladybugs can crawl in the smallest of holes and cracks and they leave a scent which tells their friends to follow them to winter safety. You can seal you house as tightly as you can, but ladybugs will get in.
My solution is to spray around all windows and doors both inside and out. The beetles that find an opening and crawl across the invisible barrier are found dead within a foot of the door or window.
But the rascals still get in flying through an open door as Charley or I enter or exit. They generally congregate by a ceiling light so a flay swatter takes care of the few fly-ins.
A problem is that when I bring wood in from the metal shed storage for the fireplace this winter, I must check the bark and secret hiding places for hibernating beetles and bang the wood together to dislodge them.
But for now the warm weather swarming must be tolerated knowing that with cooler temperatures, the ladybugs will find a hiding place for the winter.