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Lady bug look-alike's bite might hurt a bit

Those trying to enjoy unseasonably warm October weather may have discovered a deterrent: a not-so-friendly variety of lady bug. North Dakota State University extension agent Dave DeCock said he got about six calls Monday concerning the insect, a ...

Those trying to enjoy unseasonably warm October weather may have discovered a deterrent: a not-so-friendly variety of lady bug.

North Dakota State University extension agent Dave DeCock said he got about six calls Monday concerning the insect, a multicolored Asian lady beetle.

Most complaints were from people annoyed with the insects entering their homes.

"This little bugger bites a little bit, too," DeCock said.

Doug Duran of rural Barnesville, Minn., visited Maplewood State Park Sunday and found the lady buglike insects to be thick.

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Duran said the bite was more painful than a mosquito bite, but less painful than a bee sting. At one time he had six to eight insects on his body while at the state park near Pelican Rapids, Minn.

NDSU entomologist Philip Glogoza said multicolored Asian lady beetles are more abundant this season because their prey -- soybean aphids -- also were plentiful this year.

"If you have the food out there, the predator's population is going to do better," Glogoza said.

As temperatures start to cool off, the insects will look for places to seek shelter, he said.

To get rid of the beetles from a home, DeCock recommends cleaning them up with a vacuum. If the insects are squashed, they'll create a "yucky, yellow stain" and will have a bad odor, he said.

Glogoza said the odor is caused by reflexive bleeding, which the insect uses for defense purposes. The vacuum should be emptied right away or the insects will crawl out, he said.

If the beetles are congregating in large numbers around a house, applying insecticide around the home's foundation will minimize the amount that get inside, Glogoza said.

But if they aren't a nuisance, Glogoza says not to kill lady beetles because they feed on crop pests.

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The lady beetles are red or orange with spots, but they can have different color variations. A distinguishing mark is what looks like an M -- or a W -- behind the insect's head, Glogoza said.

The multicolored Asian lady beetle was first collected in North Dakota in 1999.

People have had problems with them the previous two years, but this is the first year Glogoza has gotten so many calls from the Fargo area.

"Once we get the colder weather, the problem will be gone," DeCock said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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