Ladybugs Are Gettin’ It On in the East Bay
PSA for the voyeur-lite.
February is a special time of year for ladybugs, and for people who have a thing for insect mating rituals. No judgement.
Seriously though, there’s nothing quite like a beautiful, red swarm of little winged ladybugs dancing in the first warm sun of the year. The East Bay is particularly fortunate in that ladybugs really seem to like hanging out in our parks as they stretch their wings after a long winter’s nap.
According to Dan Rosenheim of the Bay City News Foundation, the dense collection of ladybugs, called a “loveliness,” occurs in the Bay Area every year at this time — from Mount Tamalpais to Tilden Park. East Bay Regional Park District’s Susan Ramos explained the “estivo-hibernation” process, where the insects collect in clusters and camp out with very little eating and movement in a “torpid state” to wait out the frost.
But come the first signs of spring, in February or March, spectacular amounts of bright beetles (no, they’re not truly bugs) start to shake things up and decorate the forests and park scenes in a glowing rust-colored display. The moment is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, as a ladybugs’ lifespan is just about a year long.
After they shake off the cold and have their mating fun, they’ll head down to the Central Valley to chow down on aphids — in almost alarming quantities — and proceed to lay their eggs.
Ramos said it’s believed ladybugs deposit pheromones that lead their offspring back to repeat the process in the next year.
For some reason, Oakland’s Redwood Regional Park is magnet for the annual red insect show. If you can ditch your other responsibilities Friday to go take a hike, the 70-degree weather would be the perfect time to catch a truly beautiful and just plain happy display of natural wonder.