In response to a spate of work orders from Coles Tower residents over the past few weeks, Director of Residential and Housing Operations Lisa Rendall sent an email on Wednesday to residents, recommending that residents vacuum up the bugs and release them outside.
“I know ladybugs are an unexpected guest in your quad that not everyone is comfortable with,” Rendall wrote in the email. “Because ladybugs are good for the environment—like bees—the College does not exterminate them unless there is a safety issue.”
But Rendall’s email misidentified the insects as ladybugs, and Tower residents quickly pointed out in emails to Rendall and other Tower residents.
Parke Aiken ’20 clarified in one response to the thread that most of the bugs in Coles Tower are, in fact, Asian lady beetles, an invasive species. Although they do not carry any diseases, Aiken explained, they discharge a yellow liquid that often smells.
Jeff Tuttle, interim director of facilities operations and maintenance, explained that the beetle infestation happens every year around November, when the bugs inhabit brick buildings to stay warm.
“They usually come in around the south walls because that’s typically where the warmth is,” Tuttle said. “They find a place where they can go dormant, and they don’t breed when they are inside. They basically just go into a state of inactivity.”
Caitlin Loi ’20, a resident of Coles Tower, said that she has seen beetles in her room since the fall.
“They’re constantly in the bedrooms, they die on windowsills, they’re all crunchy on my carpet, they crawl on my desk while I’m writing papers. It’s ridiculous,” Loi said.
Aiken said that he currently has about 40 dead bugs on his windowsill. However, he emphasized that he has experienced many ladybug and beetle infestations at home in Alabama and is not as concerned as his roommates.
Tuttle explained that the number of bug complaints he gets changes year by year.
“Some years we get more complaints than others, and it just depends on the makeup of the students,” Tuttle said. “Some students, it doesn’t bug them one bit because they’ve seen it happen at home.”
If students are concerned with bugs entering through the crevices of windows, Tuttle said that Facilities can caulk or seal them. Otherwise, he and Rendall encourage students to vacuum up the beetles.
Jean-Baptiste Andre ’20, a residential assistant (RA) in the Tower, is working with his fellow Coles Tower RAs to facilitate a program on Sunday evening to discuss solutions to the problem.
“[The potential solutions are] extermination of the insects, cohabitation, or the transfer of insects from indoors to outdoors,” Andre said. “We’re getting small vacuums and we’re going to teach people how to make DIY bug traps … I can’t reveal too much but there will probably be a screening of ‘A Bug’s Life.’”