Have you ever looked down at a pile of leaves or a shrub to discover that it’s covered in little ladybugs? Well my buddy, my pal, do I have news for you. Those little guys aren’t ladybugs at all. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true because they’re really closely related to ladybugs, but they aren’t the same species. What they are is the ladybugs’ evil twin.
Ladybugs are often seen as a good luck symbol, so when you stumble across one of these pleasant little bugs, typically the response is positive. Imagine how I felt the fateful day I tried to snap a photo holding what I thought to be a ladybug, only to get a little bite in return! Rude! In a huff, I returned to my room to find more little devils clinging to my clothes! Somehow they tricked me into bringing them to my home base! I made quick work to rid myself of the demons only to be met with a nasty odor.
What invade the shrubs, trees and yes, even the dorm rooms of Lawrence University each October aren’t ladybugs, but are their close relative, the Asian Lady Beetle. The difference between the two isn’t big, but it’s enough to make me feel betrayed. The Asian lady beetle, sometimes called the Halloween beetle due to the time of year it becomes abundant, is slightly larger than a typical ladybug with black ‘W’ or ‘M’ mark on the top of its head blocked out with large white “cheeks.” Asian lady beetles also tend to have more of an orange look to them than true ladybugs, but color isn’t the best indicator to differentiate between them.
What appear to be sweet, harmless little bugs are instead rude, harmless little bugs! They won’t do you any real harm, but goodness gracious are they annoying! They smell, they bite, they cling to your stuff and they love to just hang out in your home! (They don’t even pay tuition!)
Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many of them. By the middle of November, it seems like you can’t take a step without crushing one of these beetles. They swarm around the cracks of doors and try to fly in at every opportunity like stampeding horses with fury and fire in their eyes.
Then they wait in the winter, dormant. Waiting for the temperature to rise before they come out and repopulate the fields once again.