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Asian lady beetles are swarming parts of the Northeast and Western U.S.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

If you experienced it, you will never forget when cicadas took over the U.S. earlier this year. They were falling from the sky into sunbathers and down chimneys. But now there's a new insect swarming parts of the Northeast and the Western United States.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is called the Asian lady beetle.

DANIEL GRUNER: Some people call them Halloween beetles because that's about the time of year when you're going to see them.

INSKEEP: Dr. Daniel Gruner is a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and says these beetles emerge in the fall then disappear in colder weather. But this year, they stayed around longer as the climate warms in some states.

ELLIOTT: You may have seen them and mistaken them for ladybugs, but they're not bugs at all. They're beetles. And while they are red insects with black polka dots, you can tell a lady beetle from a ladybug by the black M shape on their heads.

GRUNER: There's thousands of species worldwide. This one, as you probably know, is not native to North America. It was brought in as an introduction many times over the last hundred years from eastern Asia, from Russia down through Japan and Korea.

INSKEEP: I did not know that, so I feel lucky that he did. Here's another way they're different from ladybugs. The beetles can bite. But Gruner says it's nothing to worry about.

GRUNER: They're more of a nuisance, and in their aggregations, they can get into houses. And when they're alarmed, they will release kind of a sticky yellow goo that's a little stinky. I wouldn't call them a public health threat.

INSKEEP: If you discover them in your house, as I believe that I have, Gruner suggests using a sealant to close up any cracks and keep them from getting inside.

ELLIOTT: Gruner says that blasting a bunch of chemicals probably won't solve the problem. He suggests you vacuum them up and then release them back into the wild.

(SOUNDBITE OF EMANCIPATOR & CLOUDCHORD'S "TEA SPRINKLES") [CLARIFICATION:In this piece, we talk about the differences between Asian lady beetles and the better-known black and red ladybugs. But despite the differences, both are classified as beetles and are commonly referred to as ladybugs.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: December 8, 2021 at 9:00 PM PST
In this piece, we talk about the differences between Asian lady beetles and the better-known black and red ladybugs. But despite the differences, both are classified as beetles and are commonly referred to as ladybugs.