As it turns out, ladybugs aren’t compatible with surgery on humans.
CoxHealth confirmed Monday that last week it had to temporarily close a surgical suite at Cox Medical Center Branson due to the presence of “a few” insects.
The closure “resulted in five procedures being postponed,” according to a statement the health system issued Monday. The procedures had already been scheduled, a spokeswoman said.
“The suite was closed out of an abundance of caution for patient safety,” the Cox statement said, “as there was a minor issue with the ceiling that required repair. The work was quickly completed, after which normal operations resumed. We are sorry for the inconvenience this caused for our patients, and are thankful for their understanding.”
By Monday there wasn’t any evidence of any more of the insects, Cox officials said in their statement.
HOW DO LADYBUGS GET INTO HOSPITALS?
Weather and climate may both play a role. It’s not uncommon during colder times of the year to see ladybugs indoors, said Avery Russell, a Missouri State University entomologist (i.e., insect scientist).
“The Asian ladybug in particular is gregarious and will seek out warm places en masse in fall,” Russell told the News-Leader in an email, noting that he was not aware which precise type of ladybug Cox officials had to contend with last week.
Once indoors, Russell said, ladybugs “will indeed diapause (essentially, hibernate) and wake up when there is warmer weather.”
Ladybugs aren’t dangerous, Russell added.
“As far as I know they’re not known to transmit any diseases,” Russell said, “and they only eat other insects and nectar. If squashed or alarmed they’ll release some foul-smelling liquids, but if you leave them alone you’d hardly notice the insect.”
HOW UNUSUAL IS AN INSTANCE LIKE THIS?
It’s not entirely clear, but Russell said that Asian ladybugs are an invasive species that has gradually replaced North American ladybugs over the past 100 years.
“While I don’t know the particulars of this region,” he said, “it might be reasonable to assume that it has become more common here over time — though these beetles are often only noticeable when they’ve emerged from diapause at an unusual time!”
Russell added, “The waking up in unseasonable weather is likely due to climate change, as climate becomes more unpredictable.”
In the future, Russell said, we may see more incidents of unusual insect behavior due to climate change.
That could include fewer numbers of insects overall, as insect behavior and life cycles are disrupted by climate breakdown.
Such a situation is “not a good thing for all the other plants and animals, including us, that depend on them!” Russell said.
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