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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Ladybugs in winter - in or out?

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Question
When you live in the Midwest and find a ladybug in the house during winter, is it better to take that ladybug to a houseplant or put it outside? I have heard that ladybugs actually do better in the cold, and we have a somewhat protected porch. Thanks!

Answer
Hi, Marie:

I am making your question public since this is a question I am sometimes asked by others, and there appears to be no personal information in your query.

Personally, I don't think it matters much what you do in these cases.  Warm spells during winter will rouse lady beetles from hibernation on occasion, but when cold returns they will once again seek shelter.  So, releasing an "indoor" lady beetle outdoors might eventually result in it finding its way back inside anyway.

Insects are more durable than we give them credit for, so while I am always encouraged by people who express concern for our diminutive wildlife, intervention is usually unnecessary.

Take care, have a great upcoming Valentine's Day!

Sincerely,

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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