I just returned from a hike where I saw tens of thousands of ladybugs (aka Convergent Lady Beetles) scrambling over each other on logs and twigs, in crevices and cracks, and over thorny vines trying to stay warm. Three bugs thick in some places, these red swarms have been populating sunlit spots within Redwood Regional Park in Oakland during the winter months as they do annually.
Like Monarch butterflies, ladybugs inherit from their ancestors the information telling them where to go. Also they go through the same four stages of life: egg/larva/pupa/adult.
As I write, I am still fishing them out of my pants and my shirt–I admired them today from the ground for quite a long time. I learned that the beautiful spotted red body is really just a cover (called an elytra) for their translucent wings underneath.
Naturalists of the East Bay Regional Park District have been following these beetles over time. To learn more check out Sharol Nelson-Embry’s blog and Linda Yemoto’s video on Quest’s website.