Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Attack of the Killer Ladybugs

Before we moved to the farm, my mother had warned me that there were going to be a lot of bugs - it is the country after all.  She grew up on a farm in Iowa, and dreaded the bugs.

But, I figured that I grew up in Minnesota, so really, how bad could it be?  Growing up, we had woods in our backyard, and I had been “up north” many times to know well enough what it is like to get eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Aside from the no less than 12 wasp nests we had to spray and knock down around the farm house when we first arrived, I have to report that overall the bug situation has been fairly under control, thankfully.

When we first got here in mid-August, there was a LOT of dragonflies.  They were everywhere, but they really didn’t bother anyone that much.  And, we didn’t mind having them around because they were keeping the mosquitoes at bay.

Then some of the farmers began to spray their soybeans for aphids, and mysteriously all of the dragonflies disappeared.  Now, I am not an argonomist, so I have no idea if the spraying and the disappearance are correlated.  It may just be the time of year that the dragonflies start hibernating?

The mosquito population did noticeably increase, but in my opinion, the gnats were more of an annoyance.  Of course, files are always around.  Thanks to our recent frost many of them lost their lives.

However, I was not prepared for the Killer Ladybugs.

What?!  You haven’t heard of the Killer Ladybugs?!

Neither had I.

This week I had noticed a lot more ladybugs on our window screens (I love having the windows open in the fall – fresh air!).  Quite a few were getting into the house too, but I was used to this as the same thing would happen every fall at our apartment building in the suburbs.


Then yesterday the boys and I went outside to see what Travis was up to.  Charlie decided to go for a tractor ride with his dad, so I took the opportunity to go for a walk with Levi in the stroller.  We ventured down a “road” on our property between some corn and soybean fields (it is dirt and not maintained – only used for farm equipment).


I discovered that the “road” was also great for spying on the neighbors (photo is zoomed in…they really don’t live that “close”).  They will get their own post at another time, but until then I have one word: Hutterites.

Anyways, Levi and I were enjoying our walk when I started getting dive-bombed by some unknown bugs.  I swatted one bug on my neck that had some sort of shell.  I thought that they were ladybugs, but then I told myself that I was hallucinating from giving up caffeine (soda or pop, or soda pop).

Then they started biting me!  Not like a mosquito bite (it hurt more than that), but much less than say a hornet bite.  Fortunately, I don’t think that Levi was getting attacked like me, but we turned around to walk a half mile back to the house to get me some caffeine (tea this time, not pop…baby steps people).

I kept the killer ladybugs story to myself until dinner that evening (8pm is when we typically eat at night) when I started noticing the bug bites from said ladybugs.  They were blotchy and slightly itchy (still less swelling and irritation than a mosquito bite).  I’ll spare you pictures, even though really they didn’t look that bad – I just had them randomly over my body where the skin had been exposed.

My father-in-law said (please used your best old(er) farmer voice), “Yep, those are ladybugs.  Usually they don’t bite.  I don’t know what has got into them this year.”

If ladybugs weren’t known for their pest-eating habits, I might start having issues with them.  However, they will no longer have the cuteness factor that they are given in children’s books (sorry Charlie).

Fortunately, most of the bites have healed to where they are no longer itchy or pink.  I did venture outside today with out getting bit, but they were still lingering.

Ladybug target practice,
Dana

(Update: I am now aware that these are probably Asian lady beetles.  We have been able to keep them mostly contained outside of the house, aside from soybean harvest time.)

2 comments:

  1. Dana! Beware if they r orange. Then they r asain beetles and they will thrive in ur house year round. Don't let them in! My parents house had them whhen I was in high school and i'd wake up with bites every morning. They r horrible little bugs. -And if u squish them they smell really bad. Seriously, watch out.

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  2. Also- if they are the Asian beetles- put bay leaves in your window sills. I know it sounds crazy- but we used to have them at our farm, and once we did that- they went away. and most likely they are asian beetles. good luck!

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