Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Friday, 2/5/16
By Friday, with a warm sunny day, we were ready for a long walk on the canal path. The late morning was too fine for us to stay indoors; besides, we'd been away from the trail for quite a spell because of rainy weather and we wanted to see what changes had occurred. We still had to dodge some goopy or muddy areas, compliments of the buckets of rain NorCal had seen in January. That was all right, we'd planned for it and our shoes could be easily cleaned when we got home. Oh my, the sweet, warm air felt wonderful after all the weeks of downright cold temps. Who could blame us for wanting to be outside!
Toward the end of the first trail section, we heard this small waterfall before we saw it -- it had been a few years since any water fell here. When we first moved to Nevada City, almost four years ago, water flowed freely, but the entire state dried up not long after. Blame us for the drought, I guess!
The waterfall comes from this small pond as it overflows. The pond, of course, has also been dry for a few years. Yup, we were pleasantly surprised to see so much water and we fervently hope it doesn't disappear again.
I continued walking beyond the pond for a bit, but as I turned around to return to where Jimmy was, I glanced down ... to see not just hundreds, not just thousands, but a million ladybugs. Maybe more. A ginormous cluster, on the ground, covering trees, branches, leaves, logs. If you enlarge this photo, you can see ONE portion of what I actually saw. I called to Jimmy and he was as amazed as me.
I didn't have my camera, and I was really glad I'd carried my phone, so these pics are from my phone.
The ladybugs weren't flying; they seemed sluggish, barely wiggling around. I looked on Google when I got home to see the whys and wherefores of a huge cluster like this. Between the months of November and February, convergent ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens) migrate far from the feeding areas (of the coast?) to mountainous areas, gathering in masses for warmth, to hibernate, and to do the deed while they're all huddled so closely together. Heading for the mountains is especially true for ladybugs in the western half of North America. This large aggregation chose our 3,000 ft elevation for their winter assembly. Believe me, it's quite a sight!
I'm sure everyone knows that the ladybug is technically a beetle, and a good one to have around, especially in the garden. It'll eat its weight, and then some, in aphids. I say, go for it. I hope a lot of these li'l fellers stick around Nevada City ... they're welcome in my yard!