Ladybug Swarms Pester Students, Invade Dorms

Andrew Clay ’08 woke up from a nap this week with ladybugs crawling on his face. He, along with other students and faculty around campus, reported swarms of ladybugs outside several campus buildings, including Samuel Phillips Hall. “They’re all over my window,” said Clay, a resident of Carriage House. Thomas Cone, Instructor in Biology, recalled a similar ladybug invasion at Phillips Academy about two years ago. There is a reasonable explanation for this phenomenon, according to Cone. He attributed the sudden rise of ladybugs to their search for a warm place to guarantee survival in the winter. In the spring, the ladybugs, specifically classified as Asian ladybugs, will vacate their winter havens in buildings to continue their life outdoors. The influx of ladybugs is not contained within the Andover campus. Day student Zahra Bhaiwala ’10 described finding large numbers of ladybugs on her basement ceiling. Stephanie Schuyler ’08, also a day student, also discovered a cache of ladybugs on her bedroom ceiling. Initially, Cone said, he and his colleagues believed the ladybugs had all hatched recently. But with some research, they discovered that Asian ladybugs actually reproduce and mate in the spring. The beetles, formally called “Coccinellidae,” are often used as a form of pesticide. Ladybugs eat aphid larvae and other insects, thus restraining the population of insects that feast on plants. Due to the fact that the ladybugs were most likely introduced to the local environment for this purpose, Cone speculated that the school will not attempt to forcibly remove the beetles. “I think action should be taken to lessen the ladybug infestation exscially in Carriage House because it has gotten quite out of hand. I can not sleep at night with ladybugs crawling all over my face,” said Clay. Since their introduction to the United States in southeastern states as a form of pest control, Asian ladybugs have adapted to their environment, flocking to buildings for protection from the weather. Cone expressed amazement for an impressive display of evolution, which others have found to be mildly disturbing. Other members of the Phillips Academy community reacted similarly to the throngs of red beetles. “Last Thursday, after sixth period, I swear there were thousands of ladybugs on the six pillars of SamPhil. Someone described it as ‘the plague,’ saying that the ‘end’ was near,” said Rekha Auguste-Nelson ’09. Clay said, “I’ve been trying to kill them but they keep coming back…they keep multiplying.”