In cultures across the globe, ladybugs have come to symbolize prosperity. It's even been said that finding one of these beetles in your home signals good luck. While the symbolism may seem fortuitous, an infestation of ladybugs in your home can be a pain. If you're finding uninvited ladybugs crawling around your home, read on for some helpful information about repelling them .
Are Ladybugs Harmful?
Ladybugs are not known to be harmful to humans, but they do have the ability to release a noxious, smelly fluid from their joints when frightened or stressed. That odor combined with their bright, spotted wings helps to deter predators. In large numbers, ladybugs are recognized as persistent pests that can become a nuisance if they breach the windows and walls of your home. Sometimes their secretions can stain walls, rugs, and upholstery. Some people are allergic to an Asian species of ladybug that was imported into the U.S., and can develop hay fever or skin reactions from an infestation.
Though a ladybug infestation can be unpleasant, remember that these beetles are quite beneficial when out in the garden. Ladybugs serve as natural pest control, preying on aphids and other insects that damage vegetables and flowers.
Why Are Ladybugs in My House?
Ladybugs find their way inside because they're looking for a shelter in which to overwinter. That means they're searching for someplace warm and dry where they can wait out the cold season, and our cozy homes are perfect for this purpose. You'll occasionally find only one ladybug wandering around inside, but it's also possible to find many. You'll notice these so-called colonies of ladybugs scattered around your home or clustered together in one space, usually nestled in corners of attics or basements or near doors and windows.
Why the colonies? When one ladybug finds its way inside, it has a way of signaling to others and drawing them indoors too. Adult ladybugs can release pheromones, or scented chemical flares that attract other ladybugs nearby. This chemical signal creates a trail that invites other ladybugs in via the same path the first ladybug used. This can also lead them to cluster in one location in your home. In spring, you may see ladybugs that hid inside for the winter reemerging near bright doors and windows.
How to Get Rid of Ladybugs in Your House
To counter an infestation, here are a few recommendations.
Winterize Your Home
Of course, a professional pest control company can spray the outside of your home to create a barrier to entry. But to keep ladybugs from entering your house in the first place, Terminix recommends winterizing your home: "Make sure doors have adequate weather stripping and that windows have tight-fitting screens. Caulk all potential openings on the outside of your home. If they never get inside, you won't have to learn how to get rid of ladybugs in the house." When winterizing your home, ensure you address any potential entry points and seal cracks so that none are visible. It's best to do this before the weather cools and ladybugs begin to find their way indoors.
Use Natural Repellents
Terminix also recommends using natural repellents to disperse ladybugs. Place a small bag of cloves or bay leaves in the area they are gathering. You can also plant chrysanthemums near windows and entranceways as a natural deterrent. A chemical compound found within the mums acts as a repellent—in fact, pyrethrum-based insecticides are derived from chrysanthemum flowers.
Use a Vacuum Cleaner
You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove any lingering ladybugs in your home. If they have expired on your windowsills, hardwood floors, or carpeting, you'll want to vacuum them up so that they don't stain paint or fabric. When dealing with live ladybugs, you can vacuum them up in order to relocate them outside. Place a handkerchief between the dust bag and hose to capture the ladybugs, then take the vacuum outside and open it to release them. The suction action of a vacuum cleaner will ensure they don't fly away and make their home elsewhere in your space.
There are plenty of ways to take action and counter a ladybug infestation—both professionally and in a DIY fashion—so keep your eyes peeled, and remember that when you see a ladybug in your home, there's a reason for it, and there's something you can do to keep more from following suit. Next spring, they'll bring you good luck where they belong—out in the garden.