The invasion begins: Ladybugs looking for a place to hibernate for winter

CLEVELAND - They are everywhere. On your doors, windows and siding, by the thousands. The ladybugs are back and they are hoping you'll invite them in.

This is the time of year when these small orange, spotted beetles are most active. They are looking for a warm spot to spend the winter. That's why they are desperately trying to find a way into any warm crevice they can find. They would enjoy coming into your home. But, they'll be happy inside your window sill or door jam. They need a small space to stay warm.

Most of the time, the ladybug nestles down in some mulch or loose leaf litter around your foundation. Those are warm spots too.

Ladybugs are beneficial insects in the garden. They eat other harmful insects like aphids. Why are there so many around in recent years?

Well, many of the bugs you are seeing are actually Asian lady beetles. According to the University of Pennsylvania Agriculture Department, the Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis, was introduced into Pennsylvania back in 1978 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This was done to control aphid and scale insects that were damaging crops. This beetle's recent population increase in many northern states, including Ohio, could be from this USDA release. Or, instead, they are thought to be from a new source that was accidentally introduced in New Orleans from an Asian freighter.

Either way, they can be a nuisance this time of year to homeowners. Large numbers are found  this time of year congregating on windows, doors, and porch decks. They seem to be attracted to the the sunny side of homes and other structures. They are looking for cracks or crevices in which to overwinter.

The good news: they are harmless. They don't sting and can be easily swept up with the vacuum cleaner. Besides, they are said to bring good luck...as long as you don't let too many of them in your house!

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