Not since the Mongol Conquest of China in the 13th century, has there been such a raid. But instead of men on horseback, we have tiny red and black-dotted beetles. There’s one room in our house these ladybugs especially crave, which now belongs to my mom. She tried everything to get rid of this horde — until she finally hit on a simple, but shocking solution.
According to legend, ladybugs bring luck. And let’s face it, compared to other gruesome specimens in the insect world – Daddy Long Legs, hornets, and preying mantises come to mind – ladybugs are downright cute. In the garden, they’re useful, eating aphids that can ravage plants.
But now the ladybugs are inside the house and yes, there’s such a thing as too much luck.
My mom discovered this after moving into our oldest son’s former bedroom eighteen months ago. As soon as the weather grew colder, more and more ladybugs gathered on one particular windowsill above her bed and wouldn’t go away. They reminded me of the Hells Angels when they take over a small town, much to the locals’ dismay.
At first Mom tried ignoring the problem. After all, they’re just ladybugs, but when she found a few on her bed, she knew she had to do something. She consulted Google and came up with the “suction device” approach, otherwise known as a “dust buster.”
Yes, my mother simply vacuumed up the ladybugs and took them outside. Being the kind, compassionate soul she is, she even set them free. “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” I picture her whispering as she released the ladybugs into the wild.
She came inside, flushed with triumph. Solution found.
But there was one problem. Within days, the ladybugs returned to the windowsill. (“Did you miss us? We’re back!!” I picture them taunting).
And yes, who knows if this is the exact same ladybug tribe, but apparently they release pheromones that attract each other. Since this windowsill had been staked and “marked,” there’s a good chance this was the same crew.
My mother went back to the drawing board. She did more research, and along the way, found that ladybug society has a dark underbelly.
First, they bite if provoked. Yes, it’s possible to piss off a ladybug. One fell on my mom’s arm and when she tried to shoo it off, the ladybug bit her, a tiny bite, but obviously, this bug was no lady.
Second, if hungry, they eat their siblings. Needless to say, this can make for awkward Thanksgiving dinners. (“Is that a drumstick you’re noshing on, Fred? No, its sister Becky.”)
But I digress.
The next solution was for my mother to get tougher. On Google, one expert said to vacuum up the ladybugs, but this time, put them in a plastic bag and throw them in the garbage. Yes, they die of asphyxiation… *sniff*
Once again, my compassionate mother couldn’t do this. She couldn’t perform mass extinction on these “beautiful little creatures” as she called them.
But now, the ladybug rally was growing bigger as more “chapters” arrived to help celebrate the good digs for the winter. God knows with all those pheromones flying, what kind of debauchery was going on.
Once again, Mom looked on the Internet …and there was another solution, one she would never have known. Apparently ladybugs (and many other animals) hate one thing more than anything in the world. Many will go out of their way to avoid even the briefest encounter with this horrible, awful, repulsive object.
It was worth a try. Mom cut off the ends of some citric yellow orbs, gave them a squeeze to release the scent and put them on the windowsill amidst the ladybugs.
Within days, they were gone. And so far, haven’t returned.
Apparently, houseflies and other pests hate the smell of lemons too — something to keep in mind. I couldn’t help wonder… would they work on the real Hells Angels?
Mom was happy she had found a non-violent solution to the problem. My husband Randy and I were grateful something we’d been battling for years had a good ending. .
And yes, the ladybugs are not happy. But at least they’re alive. And if hungry, they can always eat a sibling.
Have you had an infestation of any kind? Comments are always welcome and if you’d like, please share.
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