April 3, 2014

Ladybug Inundations

Native spotted lady beetles (Coleomegilla maculata) escape the rising water
On April 3rd, this year's rising rivers crested in Concord and Great Meadows experienced a double inundation, one of water and another of spotted lady beetles (Coleomegilla maculata).  As I was wading...calf, knee, and then thigh deep along the water-covered dike trail, I encountered a surprising spring spectacle.  In two separate locations thousands of pink lady had climbed en mass onto shrubs, tree trunks, cattail leaves, and even lotus pods to escape the rising waters.  Each spring these brilliant, native predators emerge as adults from their winter slumber in the leaf litter and disperse to lay eggs, several hundred per female, just as the earliest flowers and leaves begin to open.  Their voracious larvae feed on aphids and many other plant-eating insects and are tremendously beneficial to wild and agricultural plants alike.  The notable abundance of lady beetles at Great Meadows may be due, in part, to its riverside proximity to Hutchins Farm, who release these beetles seasonally as part of their organic farming cycle.

While Great Meadows NWR lies squarely in the Concord River floodplain, helping to absorb and divert seasonal river rises, wildlife and visitors must adapt to temporary inconveniences...and opportunities.

Inundated dike trail
Beaver surfaces and explores new territories
Beaver surprised to see me wading along...tail slap!

Great blue heron keeps one step ahead, sharing the trail
Final notes of the day


  1. Were you dressed like a fly fisherperson? I love this post. So interesting! There are so many neat surprises in nature!

    1. Yes, Dawn, I wore my chestwaders out there. The water was up to my thighs on the highest day. Glad you enjoyed the tale!

  2. Hi Cherrie,
    Great to see this announcement! Last year, on March 5th, I photographed the masses of 12-spotted lady beetles in the same area. (And doing so got a wicked case of poison ivy on my legs. ) This year I returned the end of March to find them again but no show -- I saw only one slow beetle alive and a few dead ones. Not surprising to learn that this year the emergence is nearly a month later than last year's.

  3. The lady bug show was fantastic. Thanks for the photos and facts about the bugs.