Ladybugs spend most of their lives alone, gorging themselves on aphids. But every winter they take to the wind, soaring over cities and fields to assemble for a ladybug bash. In these huge gatherings, they'll do more than hibernate-it's their best chance to find a mate.
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Where do ladybugs live?
In California, ladybugs spend most of the year on crops in the Central Valley, or on domestic garden plants, feeding on aphids. When the weather starts to turn chilly, however, the aphids die off in the cold. With food becoming scarce, the ladybugs take off, flying straight up. The wind picks them up and carries them on their way, toward hills in the Bay Area and coastal mountain ranges.
What do ladybugs eat?
Ladybugs spend most of the year on crops or on domestic garden plants, feeding on aphids.
Are ladybugs insects?
Ladybugs belong to the order Coleoptera, or beetles. Europeans have called these dome-backed beetles by the name ladybirds, or ladybird beetles, for over 500 years. In America, the name ladybird was replaced by ladybug. Scientists usually prefer the common name lady beetles.
Why are some ladybugs red?
The red color is to signal to predators that they are toxic. "They truly do taste bad. In high enough concentrations, they can be toxic," said Christopher Wheeler, who studied ladybug behavior for his Ph.D. at UC Riverside.
More great Deep Look episodes on biology:
Where Are the Ants Carrying All Those Leaves?
Watch Flesh-Eating Beetles Strip Bodies to the Bone:
Nature's Scuba Divers: How Beetles Breathe Underwater:
See also another great video from the PBS Digital Studios!
It's Okay to Be Smart: Why Seasons Make No Sense
If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, In the Bay Area, one of the best places to view ladybug aggregations is Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. Between November and February, numerous points along the park's main artery, the Stream Trail, are swarming with the insects.
KQED Science: http://www.kqed.org/science
Funding for Deep Look is provided in part by PBS Digital Studios and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Deep Look is a project of KQED Science, which is also supported by HopeLab, the David B. Gold Foundation, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, the Vadasz Family Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Smart Family Foundation and the members of KQED.