LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - You may have seen lots of what appear to be ladybugs over the last few weeks, but chances are they're not ladybugs, but a similar looking insect called the Asian lady beetle.
With the weather turning cold the bugs flock to homes and businesses looking for shelter and warmth. They're not particularly dangerous, but they can bite and sometimes show up in huge groups and can have a pretty bad smell.
Service Technician for Environmental Pest Control Matthew Berberera said the two insects serve pretty much the same purpose. They live in crop fields and trees and eat aphids, but Berberera said there are a few differences.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there about Asian lady beetles, that they're going to try to bite or try to find their way into your dog's mouth. Those things can happen but it's pretty rare," Berberera said. "The reason we're seeing so much of them right now is it's the end of summer leading into fall. They try to find somewhere to hibernate, one of the areas conducive to that is homes with siding or homes with any nooks and crannies they can fit into."
You may have seen hundreds of them traveling together, which most people certainly won't like in their home, but Berberera said keeping them out is fairly easy.
"The biggest thing you can do is just preventative sealing," Berberera said. "Any way you would want to deal with a strong north wind. Sealing up windows, fixing weather stripping on doors. If you can feel drafts coming into your home, you're probably inviting Asian lady beetles into your home."
If the insects are already in your home, don't worry, Berberera said they won't do any major damage. But he said you should avoid smashing them.
"They emit kind of a yellow secretion and it definitely has an odor, it can stain especially on blinds or carpet, things like that," Berberera said. "Really the best thing to do is call out a professional with some insecticide or just take out a vacuum and vacuum them all up, wait a couple days and they'll die inside that vacuum."
Berberera said we've seen so many more of the Asian lady beetles over the last couple of weeks because we got a stretch of cold weather, followed immediately by a few days that were uncharacteristically warm. He said the insects likely used those warm days to try to find a new place to hunker down for the winter.