Friday, October 09, 2009

Bugs in winter

If you live in latitudes where winters are cold enough for snow and ice, you see most insects disappear without hardly any traces. And yet, they come again in full force next spring. Where do they go? Aside for just a small handful that migrates to warmer climates, the rest are left with no choice but to find a hidden place to spend the winter. Unfortunately for us, some of them have figured out that human surroundings are nice and cozy and find shelter inside our homes. Such is the case of a striped black and bright red bug which sometimes becomes a nuisance in the fall in its search for warm places. It is the boxelder bug, so called because it feeds in the juices of boxelders and some other maples. Fortunately it doesn't cause serious damage.

Most ladybugs are well behaved and don't give you any trouble; however there are a few species that seek the comfort of each other company and together invade human residences. One of them is the Asiatic ladybeetle also called the multicolored lady beetle for reasons that are obvious in the picture below. Not two are alike in color and pattern. This lady beetle was introduced intentionally in the United States from Asia to combat aphids so years ago there weren't such invasions of these beetles. It is interesting that the same thing is taking place in some South American countries where this lady bug was unknown just a few years ago.

Another insect that may show up inside your home in winter, although for entirely different reasons is a long horned beetle of a very respectable size, the banded ash borer. If you have a fireplace and bring logs into the house you may find several of them crawling around and heading for the light of the window. This one has not been looking for the warmth of your house, instead you brought it in unwittingly with the logs where it was spending the winter. It feeds on the wood of ash and oak trees and remains out of sight for most of its life.

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