Asian beetles flew in swarms last week, brought out by the warm temperatures and sunshine. According to the University of Minnesota, the Asian beetle (Harmonia axyridis) infests "the west and south sides of tall or prominent light-colored buildings in mid-to-late October."
This explains why these bugs swarmed in St. Olaf residence halls such as Ellingson and Larson. Asian beetles infest buildings to find shelter for the upcoming cool weather, according to the U of M.
Asian beetles look like ladybugs, but are a bit bigger and more aggressive. They are yellowish orange to red, can be spotted and more round than ladybugs. They emit a yellowish liquid from their legs, and have a pungent odor. It is important to note that the yellow liquid stains permanently, so students should be careful where they decide to smash the beetles.
As many students have experienced, Asian beetles also bite. "Unlike most species of lady beetles," writes the Minnesota Pest Manage-ment Center (MPMC), "[Asian beetles] bite humans and may cause welts that last from 24 to 48 hours."
So far, students are annoyed and disgusted with the beetles. "The 11th plague is on Ellingson in the form of Asian beetles," said Jennie Eukel 06.
Pamela Mannebach, director of residence life, said that the beetles are a normal if unpleasant part of fall in Minnesota. She said that when the weather cools off, the beetles will be gone.
"Cold takes care of a lot," said Mannebach. "But if it gets to be 80 degrees in November, the beetles will be back."
Many St. Olaf students are searching for ways to rid themselves and their rooms of these insects. The MPMC suggests securing windows and doors before the beetles come. Once beetles are inside the walls, however, there is no way to get them out. The MPMC recommends removing them with a broom or vacuum, but most students prefer smashing Asian beetles with shoes, books or other large, heavy objects.
Mice have also been seen on campus, particularly in Hilleboe. The woods behind Hilleboe and Kittelsby are a prime, natural location for mice, according to Mannebach.
"There are probably mice everywhere," said Mannebach. "Its not unheard of to see a mouse in rural areas, and were in a rural area."
Mannebach wanted to make one thing very clear.
"We do not have rats," she said. There is a difference between a big mouse and a rat. And we definitely do not have rats. Mice, yes, but no rats."
There have been many sightings of mice in Hilleboe, as well as in Rand. The 4th floor of Hilleboe was recently sprayed to get rid of mice. It is uncertain if several mice have been seen, or if several people have seen the same mouse, but no mice have been caught yet.
"If you see a mouse, well give you a trap," Mannebach said. "You can set it, or the custodian can set it for you."
Mannebach has no concerns about the Asian beetles or mice. She said that Asian beetles are a "short term problem," and it is "normal" for mice to come. There will be a concern if the problem cannot be eradicated, but right now there is no sign of a continuing problem. For the most part, these critters are, as Mannebach said, "just part of living in Minnesota."