Ladybugs huddle on a branch near Paradise Lake. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While ladybugs are usually solitary critters, that is not true during the winter months.

“Scientists believe ladybugs aggregate to regulate their internal body temperatures, share mates, enhance their defense, and share resources. Inside these aggregations, movement is disorderly rather than hierarchical, like a beehive or ant hill would be,” according to Treehugger.

Three of us on the last Saturday of February went to Paradise Lake to find a ladybug aggregation—which is what a large group of these beetles is called. These aggregations, which usually form November through February, are like a cluster of ladybugs hibernating.

Each winter ladybugs form an aggregation. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Ladybugs are living off stored fat that has built up after feeding on pollen and nectar when it was warm.

The seven-spotted ladybug is the most popular in North America, though 450 species are native to the continent. Throughout the world there are 5,000 ladybug species. California is home to 175 of them.

They are one of the good insects, as they feast on aphids.

While they were moving around on this particular day, they weren’t going far. Some seemed to be the proverbial bump on a log. They were on the ground, on sticks, flora, some on a rock. But it was a small area where most were congregated. Not more than 15 feet along the edge of the trail, and then in the plant closest to the trail. Most, though, were in an area about 6 feet long.

“… when the weather turns colder in autumn, they look for a warm, secluded place to hibernate, such as in rotting logs, under rocks or even inside houses. They like to group together, too, and these hibernating colonies can sometimes contain thousands of ladybirds,” National Geographic Kids says. (Ladybirds is another name for ladybugs; even the males.)

Ladybugs find comfort in this fallen leaf at Paradise Lake. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Hundreds (thousands?) of these insects were clustered in this one single area of Paradise Lake. It certainly seemed like an appealing location to hang out because it was so sunny. With it being more than 1½ miles in from the parking lot, it also wasn’t going to be visited by everyone.

It would have been easy to walk by without noticing these insects. Luckily, Gracie and Anne had been given good intel where to find them. They also shared this is a regular occurrence at Paradise Lake.

Considering ladybugs can’t fly until the temp hits 55 degrees, they likely stayed at this spot into March. They will start mating when the thermometer hits 65 and above.

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