Ottawa's ladybug population causes a stir online

An apparent surge in Ottawa's ladybug population in recent days is causing a bit of a stir online.

'What we're seeing now is actually quite normal,' entomologist says

The Asian lady beetle is slightly larger and more dome-shaped than a typical North American ladybug. They are usually red or orange. (Wikipedia Commons)

An apparent surge in Ottawa's ladybug population in recent days is causing a bit of a stir online.

With ladybugs buzzing throughout the city, residents searching for information online stumbled on a CBC Ottawa story from 2011 about biting Asian ladybugs invading the south end.

It's the most popular story on the CBC Ottawa site so far today, despite it being three years old.

Jeff Dawson, an entomologist and associate professor of biology at Carleton University, said he's been seeing a lot of ladybugs recently, especially the introduced species Asian lady beetle, which bites.

He said the bugs have been more active lately because they've been "fooled into thinking it's spring."

"I think what we're seeing now is actually quite normal. I've always sort of been troubled by the term invasion," Dawson said.

"What's really going on here is just an interaction between the normal time of year when ladybug beetles tend to become active, and the fact that we had some really nice weather, [Tuesday] in particular, which just sort of brought them out of their preparations for winter and made them, just as we were, want to get outside and fly around a lot."

As colder weather approaches, ladybugs begin prepping to overwinter. They need to find niches and small crevices, which provide a more or less constant temperature in the winter.

"Our homes provide excellent opportunities for this, and so this is why we see them around our doorframes and in our sunrooms at this time of year," Dawson said. "And when we have a nice day, like yesterday, they just wake up and start flying around. They're sort of fooled into thinking it's spring, if you will."

Dawson's pro tip: Don't squish or otherwise crush ladybugs in your home. "The colouration they have will actually permanently stain your walls and your curtains and whatnot," he said.

Montreal is also dealing with a lot of ladybugs and lady beetles lately, and here's a story they posted on it today.

Meanwhile, here's what Ottawa residents on Twitter are saying about the ladybugs.