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Beetles' seasonal swarm is back in region

The lady beetle typically swarms in fall to find winter shelter. Courtesy photo/Purdue University. (click for larger version)
October 26, 2009
Although the swarms may have dissipated, don't be surprised if you have more ladybugs knocking on your door in the coming days as the autumn temperature continues to fluctuate.

The ladybugs — or Japanese Lady Beetles to be exact — are looking for places to hibernate for the winter. They were out in full force last week during a string of warm days that punctuated the first snowfall of the year.

As the sun came out and temperatures began to bounce back up at the beginning of this week, the bugs reemerged, speckling the sides of houses and other buildings, taking in the sunshine and looking for the coziest cracks in which they can wait out the colder months.

Immigrants to the North American continent, swarms of the bugs comparable to those recently seen here were first reported in various locations in the early 1990s according to entomologists at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, leading researchers of the lady beetles' existence in the United States.

Natives of Asia, the beetles instinctively migrate towards light colored structures; basically anything the insect can mistake for an outcropping of rock, the bugs' natural refuge.

John Freeman of Brimfield, who operates a tree farm off Little Alum Road, said he's gotten used to the annual infestation on the farm, which is zigzagged with acres of colonial stonewalls.

It is not among the fields of trees or in the stonewalls that he encounters the bugs though.

"It seems to happen just about this time of year," Freeman said. "The only place that we see them collect is right here at the house and they seem to go for light-colored backgrounds."

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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