It sounds like something out of a horror movie, but it’s real and it’s been reported in some parts of New Jersey. Large swarms of Asian lady beetles are suddenly showing up inside homes, scaring the daylights out of those inside.

George Hamilton, the chairman of the Rutgers University Department of Entomology, said Asian lady beetles, also known as Asian ladybird beetles, are actually a type of ladybug. The Asian lady beetles look almost exactly the same as the traditional ladybug, but they come in different colors, including red, orange and black.

Hamilton said the cooler weather is playing a role in why they are showing up in people's homes.

“Unfortunately, it likes to come inside structures. They’ve been doing that here for about the last month. I have some in my house,” Hamilton said.

Gyorgy Csoka, Hungary Forest Research Institute, Bugwood.org

Hamilton said it's possible for Asian lady beetles to cause an allergic reaction in humans, so people should not touch their eyes if their hands have come in contact with the insects, but he stressed they are not considered dangerous.

“They’re a nuisance. They don’t do any real damage. Some years there’s more of them than others,” Hamilton said.

The Asian lady beetles usually don’t bite and they don’t carry any dangerous diseases, but if people attempt to remove the insects from their homes the bugs can emit a stinky, yellowish type of secretion when disturbed.

He said at times he’s gotten calls from terrified homeowners about the bugs.

"People are afraid of insects,” noting that when people see large numbers of insects in their house, they get upset.

"They don’t want insects in their house. There would be literally hundreds and hundreds of them in a window, usually on the south side of the house — the warm side,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said in some situations people will try to use their vacuum cleaner to rid them of the bugs, only for more to show up the next day.

To avoid having to deal with these insects in your house, securing the areas where they might be coming in would help.

“The best thing is to try to prevent them from coming in, you know caulking around windows and doors, and screens on the windows and vents,” Hamilton said.

Brantlee Spakes Richter, University of Florida, Bugwood.org

Hamilton said Asian lady beetles are so efficient they are out-competing native stick bugs for food (usually smaller insects) and threatening their survival.

Hamilton noted the Asian lady beetles can also cause problems in vineyards where clusters of the bugs can get crushed with grapes that are harvested, giving the wine that’s produced an odd, off-taste.

Hamilton said even though the bugs don’t pose any serious danger, "if people want to kill them they can.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.