Attack of the Lady Bugs


Asian lady beetles have swarmed Tennessee homes. The ladybugs are covering houses throughout areas of the state and are attracted to light colored structures for warmth as outdoor temperatures drop. Lebanon resident Diane Stroud told WTVF Newschannel 5, "There were probably one million of them…They were all over the porch. I mean the whole porch was completely covered…I mean, it was almost completely black with ‘em." Ken Thompson, another Tennessean in Madisonville dealing with the insects told WBIR, "The ladybugs come from the north, over here, and it looked like a big swarm of hornets coming. And about 12 o'clock, they covered this whole side of the house from that side, all the way around." Entomologist and Davidson County Extension Agent David Cook said, “Some of our other county agents have called in and say, ‘What s the deal with these? All of a sudden they just show up. ” David gave his assurance that the bugs are harmless but they have, “a very foul odor and a very bitter taste and so this protects these insects from being preyed on by lizards and birds.” Experts say the invasion will not end until several cold snaps cause the insects to die naturally. Guy Wilson of Wilson County told WKRN News 2, “Well I don t like cold snaps, but uh, yeah, I d like to see them go ‘cause it s be a bit of a problem if we have to keep cleaning them up every, every day.” Adam Weckesser of Dayton s Pest Control gave this helpful cleanup tip, "Pantyhose on the inside of a vacuum and so you suck ‘em into a vacuum and then you can throw the pantyhose away, and you can kind of collect them this way ‘cause once they get into the bag, it's just going to stink up." Swarms of the Asian lady beetles have also been reported throughout the Midwest, parts of the Northeast and Canada. For those that are fond of insects, pest control experts say that there are more to come, as kudzu bugs are likely to follow.


Staff member
Megacopta cribraria, also called the bean plataspid, kudzu bug, kudzu beetle, globular stink bug or lablab bug, is a shield bug native to India and China, where it is an agricultural pest of lablab beans and other legumes.[SUP][1][/SUP] The bug, while harmless to houseplants and people, often enters houses. It is attracted to white surfaces such as the walls of houses or white vehicles, where large numbers of the insects congregate. As a defense mechanism, they will spray a foul smelling liquid. Aside from smelling foul, the liquid also creates a burning sensation and leaves a red welt on bare skin.[SUP][2][/SUP]
It is similar to other Plataspididae in having a somewhat unusual symbiotic relationship with its gut bacteria. Before laying eggs, females deposit particles containing the symbiont, which are then eaten by newly-hatched nymphs under natural conditions. Nymphs experimentally deprived of access to the symbiont exhibited slower growth, smaller body sizes and higher mortality.[SUP][3][/SUP]
The bean plataspid gives off an offensive odor when touched, squashed or poked. Hosted by wisteria, green beans and other legumes, the insect sucks juice from the stems of soybean plants and reduces crop yield. However, when the insect infests kudzu, another invasive species, it appreciably reduces the growth of that plant.[SUP][/SUP]

In the southeastern United States M. cribraria is an invasive pest species, and was first noticed in northeastern Georgia in 2009. As of 2012, it was spreading rapidly into the surrounding states of Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, [[Tennessee (U.S. state)[Tennessee]] and Virginia. It has recently begun to invade Maryland as well.
The kudzu bug is about the size of a ladybug, a cousin of the stinkbug, and tough to get rid of.

Katy Davis learned just how tough first hand.
"I have tried bleach, Lysol, we got this raid spray."


H. axyridis secretes a number of defensive compounds, one of which, harmonine (17R,9Z-1,17-diaminooctadec-9-ene), which is present in H. axyridis haemolymph, has been found to display broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity that includes human pathogens. Antibacterial activity is most pronounced against fast-growing mycobacteria and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and the growth of both chloroquine-sensitive and resistant Plasmodium falciparum strains is also inhibite

800px-HarAxy_ontwikkeling.jpgHarmonia_axyridis01.jpgIn the US, the first introductions took place as far back as 1916. The species repeatedly failed to establish in the wild after successfully controlling aphid populations, but an established population of beetles was observed in the wild near New Orleans, Louisiana, around 1988. In the following years, it quickly spread to other states, being occasionally observed in the Midwest within five to seven years and becoming common in the region by about 2000. The species was also established in the Northwest by 1991, and the Northeast by 1994, aided by additional introductions from the native range, rather than just reaching there from the Southeast. Reportely, it has heavily fed on soybean aphids (which recently appeared in the US after coming from China), supposedly saving farmers vast sums of money in 2001.

This species is widely considered to be one of the world’s most invasive insects,[SUP][5][/SUP][SUP][6][/SUP] partly due to their tendency to overwinter indoors and the unpleasant odor and stain left by their bodily fluid when frightened or squashed, as well as their tendency to bite humans.[SUP][5][/SUP] In Europe it is currently increasing to the detriment of indigenous species,[SUP][5][/SUP] its voracious appetite enabling it to outcompete and even eat other ladybirds.[SUP][5][/SUP] The harlequin ladybird is also highly resistant to diseases that affect other ladybird species and carries microsporidian parasite to which it is immune but that can infect and kill other species.[SUP][6][/SUP] Native ladybird species have experienced often dramatic declines in abundance in areas invaded by H. axyridis.[SUP][7][/SUP]
In addition to its household pest status[SUP][citation needed][/SUP], it has been reported to be a minor agricultural pest contaminating crops of tender fruits and grapes[SUP][8][/SUP] in Iowa, Ohio, New York State, and Ontario.[SUP][9][/SUP] The contamination of grapes by this beetle has been found to alter the taste of wine.[SUP][10][/SUP]