With the beginning of cold weather, we also have man bugs looking for a warm place for the winter. The multi-colored Asian lady beetles are one of the most egregious offenders and if you are like me, you are tired of vacuuming them up already. They are pumpkin-colored and typically move indoors around the end of October and continue through the winter.

While multi-colored Asian lady beetles can nip you with their mouthparts, causing a little pinch, they are harmless and cannot break the skin. When irritated, they release a foul-smelling defensive fluid, which many people find objectionable.

These beetles are excellent predators, spending their summers eating aphids, thrips, scales, and other pests on our plants. But large numbers of beetles in a home can be annoying, so it is understandable that people would prefer to keep them outdoors. If you do not want to share your home with these beetles all winter, what can you do?

Keeping the beetles out is the most important method of decreasing the number of beetles in your home. Use good quality silicone or latex caulk to seal cracks and small holes in exterior walls, especially around windows and doors. Install screens (20-mesh max.) over all vents, and replace or repair damaged door and window screens. Leave screens on windows until Christmas. Install tight-fitting door sweeps and a rubber seal around the garage door.

Use insecticides to reduce beetle numbers entering the home. During this time of year, spray around outside doors and windows with a pyrethroid insecticide labeled for exterior application, such as permethrin or bifenthrin. Look for additional openings, including cracks, crevices, and pipe chases, as well as holes through which electrical, phone, and cable lines enter the home. While spraying these holes will not prevent beetles going through them, the beetles will pick up enough toxicant to kill them later.

Kill the beetles inside the home. If beetles are inside the home, operate a commercial black light trap in a dark room or at night. Place the light trap in the room with highest beetle numbers. Leave the light on all night. Empty the collection container often. Put cornstarch, talc, or baby powder on the "wings" of the trap so that the beetles fall easily into the collection container (otherwise, they will be able to climb off). The trap is free-standing and can sit on a table or floor. The trap can be homemade or purchased.

We are always here to help at the Banks County Extension office. Ways to contact us are to call us at 706-677-6230, by email at zmccann@uga.edu, or to come by the office at 413 Evans street, Homer.

Zach McCann is the Banks County Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent.

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