UK Under Seige From A Plague of Cannibal Ladybirds
October 22, 2007 7:21 AM   Subscribe

They bite, they stain, they squeak, they pheromone. Looks like they've taken Brixton. Collect them up and send them to the Professor, or let the Harlequin Survey know. Here's what they look like and where they came from. Dammit, now we've got your ladybugs.
posted by jennydiski (26 comments total)
I've got a ton of ladyBUGs on my back porch, but none of my family has been devoured so I think they are the regular kind.
posted by DU at 7:27 AM on October 22, 2007

2nd link should point to here.
posted by public at 7:27 AM on October 22, 2007

This is a problem I had no idea existed, and one I am frankly glad not to have to deal with. For me ladybugs/ladybirds are right on a size threshold: any bigger and they’d be creepy instead of vaguely cute. Then again any bug in sufficient numbers crosses that threshold, regardless of size.
posted by tepidmonkey at 7:32 AM on October 22, 2007

posted by brain_drain at 7:48 AM on October 22, 2007

I never knew they bit until I went out to a harvest festival this weekend and one got my mother. They used to be so sweet, ladybugs did.
posted by sugarfish at 7:52 AM on October 22, 2007

I used to really hate our annual ladybug invasion. But after last year's glut of earwigs and this year's overabundance of stink bugs, biblical amounts of ladybugs seem rather pleasant.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2007

Just so no one is confused:

Ladybugs are called ladybirds in the UK.
Ladybirds are called ladybugs in the U.S.
posted by grouse at 8:09 AM on October 22, 2007

Several times, when faced with evil aphids on my tomato plants, I have released several thousand ladybugs. Let them go at night, and they hang out on the plants until they have eaten all the delicious juicy aphids. I think it costs about $10 for a pint container.

For the next couple of weeks, you find a few buzzing around the house and such. I didn't realize the rest of them were invading England. I think I'll buy ten boxes next year.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 8:18 AM on October 22, 2007

huh, wonder if they're grouchy there aren't any Gentlemanbugs?
posted by nickyskye at 8:23 AM on October 22, 2007

We've got these too. As the owner of a white house with a large south-facing wall, I get my share of overwinterers, particuarly in the upstairs bathroom.

Of course, I just ignore them and sweep out the dead ones in the spring. Whiny Brits.
posted by rusty at 8:32 AM on October 22, 2007

an entirely welcome Vintage Ladybird
posted by patricio at 8:35 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Why do they find my yellow house so attractive? It had hundreds of them all over it on Saturday, while my neighbor's gray house had none.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:55 AM on October 22, 2007

These things are all over the northeast US, too. Have you noticed the smell?
posted by RogerB at 9:17 AM on October 22, 2007

Hah! And nobody believes me when I tell them that I hate ladybugs because they bite.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:17 AM on October 22, 2007

We had zillions of them when we lived on the MD/PA line. I thought it was lovely until my son's kindergarten teacher called up to complain that he had ladybugs in his hair, his clothes and his lunchbox. Actually, I still liked them - we just had to start doing a ladybug sweep of the children every morning. They never bit us and man, if you have to have a plague of bugs, they're SO much better than any of the alternatives.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:40 AM on October 22, 2007

You haven't experienced a plague of insects until your house has been infested with vomiting rat-bugs.
posted by boo_radley at 9:53 AM on October 22, 2007

In 2000 — which was a time before The Future — in the hills of North Georgia we had this same situation. It's weird in that by there lonesomes, ladybugs = adorable.

In the tens of thousands? Ladybugs = horrible.

It is a very apocalyptic sort-off thing, really, and was the perfect accessory for Teh Y2k (which was by nature a non-aggressive bug also overly wide-spread.)
posted by humannaire at 10:02 AM on October 22, 2007

Our Extemely Local News person says at home in China, they hibernate over the winter in cracks in white stone cliffs. It's a plausible story, as the buildings that are really overrun are the white concrete ones.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 10:11 AM on October 22, 2007

Majerus says their reflex blood, the gooey yellow stuff that seeps out of their joints, is the main problem. "It smells foul, tastes foul, and stains anything."

Put it in a jello shot, and you can hardly taste the reflex blood at all.
posted by not_on_display at 10:16 AM on October 22, 2007

Thanks grouse! I was like.. uh.. durr... ladybug? Ladybird? OH NO! MUTANT LADYBUG?! O wait... hai its just a ladybug..
posted by cavalier at 12:45 PM on October 22, 2007

I was at a wedding this last weekend and we were completely beset by them. Fortunately, they were just interested in checking us out and not so much in the biting or squeaking.

It was argued that in the absence of butterflies, if you have to be surrounded by a cloud of insects, you could do a lot worse than ladybugs.
posted by quin at 1:58 PM on October 22, 2007

Just today I tore vinyl siding off a house, and literally *gallons* of these things came pouring out. As if I needed another reason to hate vinyl siding, I'll add apocalyptic numbers of ladybugs living and dying underneath it to the list.
posted by lost_cause at 3:05 PM on October 22, 2007

Ladybugs almost killed me.

I was crossing a bridge over a freeway one day. (A necessity; at the time it was the only way to my high school.) The guardrail was set at knee-height, so any motion towards the edge would flip you right down into the traffic below.

Halfway across, a cloud of ladybugs engulfed me. Until that day, I did not know that ladybugs swarmed. My immediate "get 'em off, me! get 'em off, me!" reflex collided with my "oh, but they're so cute!" reflex. In the ensuing spasm of indecision, I nearly pitched myself over the edge into traffic.

Ladybugs may not be dangerous. But if they can throw me off a bridge into freeway traffic, they don't have to be.
posted by SPrintF at 6:46 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Many people don't realize that there is a species of ladybug (usually orange or yellow) introduced relatively recently in the Midwest of the US, that bites.
posted by eye of newt at 10:24 PM on October 22, 2007

News article on the biting ladybug. Sounds more like the kind that is invading Brixton. Definitely not the same ladybug that I often played with as a child.
posted by eye of newt at 10:31 PM on October 22, 2007

eon, it is the same kind. Read the links. The first one, for instance:
Professor Michael Majerus, a Cambridge ladybird expert, predicted three years ago that their numbers would mushroom having watched their rapid development in the US.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:52 AM on October 23, 2007

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