Ladies and gentlemen… the beetles – Royal Purple
It is also certain that the trees change color and the inevitable winter decline – the annual invasion of Asian ladybugs.
A warm day after the first hard frost is usually when Harmonia axyridis invades. They are also called the harlequin, but do not confuse these insects with romantic fiction. Hordes of stinky insects are coming from the soybean fields and infiltrating every crack, nook and cranny they can find.
The insects release pheromones that alert others that they have just found a great place to winter, which attracts others. It’s the same reaction some humans have to moving to Florida or Arizona.
The insects were first released by the United States Department of Agriculture in California in 1916 and then again in 1964-65 for the biological control of pecan aphids. Insects are beneficial because they feed on aphids and other insects that can damage agricultural crops. Others were therefore released in other states and ladybugs invaded Wisconsin and Minnesota in the 1990s and have been a plague ever since.
Insects have few natural predators because they are aposematic, with a red body color that warns animals to stay away. Our hens wouldn’t touch it. And when they’re disturbed or feel threatened, they secrete a stinky, yellowish liquid that deters predators and makes your vacuum cleaner smell – one of the best weapons for extracting them from inside the house.
We use chemical sprays around windows and doors, but there are always a few that get into the house. This year, the bugs upped their nuisance game by tripping our smoke detectors three times. We have 12 smoke detectors which are all hard wired so when one detector chirps they all do so which is great when you are awake from a restful sleep.
I took the advice of a friend who worked for a pest control company and wiped down the detectors with spray to hopefully stop them crawling on them. So far it has worked.
And even though the bugs stink and bite, I’d rather put up with them than the other scourge of stinking, negative political ads that, sadly, won’t end until the November 6 election.
According to a September estimate from OpenSecrets.org, spending on the federal midterm elections alone — not counting state or local elections — is expected to top $9.3 billion.
I’m no economist, but it seems like that kind of spending by people who say they’re going to take care of our inflation problems is enough on its own to keep inflation going. It’s especially disgusting when most of the ads contain the same ingredient that I often pulled out of the barn.
As for the ladybugs, they have arrived in several waves this year, following the same roller coaster ride as the weather, which recently went from 15 degrees to 75 degrees in just a few days.
But I expect the worst to be behind us now as nearby soybean fields have been combined. It’s just one of the seasonal challenges of living in rural Wisconsin.
Chris Hardie has spent more than 30 years as a journalist, editor and editor. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won dozens of state and national journalism awards. He is a past president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Contact him at [email protected].