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High-flying ladybug swarm shows up on National Weather Service radar

Ladybugs sit on a leaf after more than 120,000 of them were released at Children’s Garden at Edna Ma
A bloom of ladybugs some 80 miles square was picked up on National Weather Service radar Tuesday.
(Jeff Vendsel / Independent Journal)

At first glance, it looks like a rain cloud.

But in reality, the massive blob showing up Tuesday evening on the National Weather Service’s radar in San Diego County was just a lot of ladybugs.

Joe Dandrea, a meteorologist with NWS San Diego, said from the radar, the ladybug bloom appears to be about 80 miles by 80 miles, but the ladybugs aren’t in a concentrated mass that size. Rather, they’re spread throughout the sky, flying at between 5,000 and 9,000 feet, with the most concentrated mass about 10 miles wide.

After seeing it on the radar, Dandrea called a spotter near Wrightwood in the San Bernardino Mountains to ask what they were seeing.

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“I don’t think they’re dense like a cloud,” Dandrea said. “The observer there said you could see little specks flying by.”

California is home to about 200 species of ladybugs, including the convergent lady beetle, according to the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program.

In early spring, after temperatures reach 65 degrees, adult convergent lady beetles mate and migrate from the Sierra Nevada to valley areas where they eat aphids and lay eggs.

In the early summer, once the aphid numbers decline, beetles become hungry and migrate to higher elevations, according to the UC program.

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It wasn’t immediately known what type of ladybugs were causing the phenomenon.

But at least it wasn’t locusts.


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