Saturday 8 June 2019

Cloud of Ladybird Beetles, confuse US Weather Radar.

A United States National Weather Service station in San Diego was briefly confused by the apparent sudden appearance of a large cloud over San Bernardino County, California. The cloud appeared without warning on the San Diego CA Radar system on Wednesday 5 June 2019, and appeared to be about 130 km across, far larger than would usually be expected to form rapidly over a fairly dry part of Southern California in June. This prompted the weather station to contact ground observers in the area, who reported a large cloud of the Beetles travelling at between 1500 and 2750 m, with the densest part of the cloud less than 20 km across.

Large cloud of Ladybird Beetles detected over Southern California by a weather radar system. National Weather Service.

Ladybird Beetles, Coccinellidae, are primarily carnivorous Beetles, many species targeting agricultural pests such as Aphids or Scale Insects, so that they are widely used as biological controls. though most species will eat some plant matter, and some are minor pests in their own right. Most species are red or orange in colour, often with conspicuous spots; the name 'Ladybird' refers to the apparent resemblance of the colour of the Beetles to the cloak of the Virgin Mary, which by convention was always depicted as red in classical European art, although many species have less conspicuous colouration, making them harder to identify as part of the group. Large clouds of Ladybirds are an uncommon phenomenon. usually associated with droughts, which can lead to shortages of prey items, causing large numbers of the Beetles to take to the air at the same time.

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