Thursday, August 25, 2005

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles and the Black Helicopters

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle on a sprig of apple mint

I was cleaning out the pantry the other day, making room for my newly filled pint jars of calico relish, spaghetti sauce, and tomato preserves, when I swept up the carcasses of a dozen lady bugs. If I'm lucky I will finally sweep out the last dead lady bug from last year the day they start coming in the house in the fall.

The problematic insect in question is the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle. It looks rather sweet in this photo. You don't see the 10,000 other lady bugs that were swarming over my house, last October, looking for a crack to crawl in. These critters are exotics, their populations unchecked by predators and disease, and in the fall they aggregate and fly in big clouds. I was driving over Kennison mountain last fall on a beautiful, sunny day when I drove smack into one of these swarms. I had to pull over and wash off the foul-smelling haemolymph so I could see to drive. In the winter, the little darlings treat you to a whiff of this stuff whenever you brush against one as it crawls on your computer, around your lamp, on your furniture, up your nose....They also bite.

The extension fact sheets from Penn State and Cornell differ on whether these critters were intentionally or accidentally introduced. Some people in Pocahontas County favor a conspiracy theory, in which people heard planes fly over, and were immediately pelted by a rain of lady bugs. Here on Droop Mountain, we've watched swarms come down like rain, without benefit of planes, black helicopters or other interventions.

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