Tag Archives: entemology

Lady bug swarm turns Green Mountain red

more about “Lady bug swarm turns Green Mountain red“, posted with vodpod

Lady bugs unite! When a friend of mine posted some photos she took while on a hike on Boulder’s Green Mountain, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw entire tree trunks covered in red. The red was lady bugs, a mass gathering of a gardener’s best friend, as they search for mates and prepare to hibernate for the winter. Now this was something I had to see for myself.

Of course, not everyone can make the hike to Green Mountain, but hopefully you can live a little vicariously through this slide show, and learn a little something new about this “cuter” member of bug-dom.

There are more than 400 species of lady bugs, (or as they’re more officially known ladybird beetles), in North America. This year has been an unusual one for lots of natural phenomena in Colorado — a wet, cool summer has led to an endless green summer and multitudes of wildflowers — and this year’s lady bug gathering is no exception. Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks estimates that this could be a record-setting year for the annual swarm.

Besides the slideshow, I’ve made a little list of interesting lady bug facts you might not know.

  • They’re cannibals.
    • at least during their larval stage. Researchers recently discovered lady bug babies hatch and eat their siblings. Don’t get too disillusioned. They grow out of it.
  • They don’t change their spots.
    • Some people think you can tell the beetle’s age by the number of its spots, but according to the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, you keep what you’re born with when it comes to the dots.
  • They “play dead.”
    • If an adult ladybug feels threatened it will fall down and “die,” or let off a foul yellow ooze from its leg joints that most animals won’t want to eat, (University of Arizona)

Take two pills and buzz me in the morning

Good news for honeybee apiaries. Colony Collapse Disorder, the multi-billion dollar plague of honeybee farms and a threat to ecological well-being may be a thing of the past thanks to new discoveries by researchers out of Spain. It seems a bug has been bugging the bees in the form of a microsporidia parasite called Nosema ceranae.

Dr. Mariano Higes and his team ruled out popular suspicions of pesticides and the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus as possible causes of the disorder,instead determining bees from the two apiaries were dying solely from infections by the pesky parasite. Subsequently, all colonies treated with the antibiotic, flumagillin, completely recovered. This marks a pretty significant breakthrough in an ecological mystery that has spanned the globe and threatened the agricultural industry.

“Now that we know one strain of parasite that could be responsible, we can look for signs of infection and treat any infected colonies before the infection spreads” said Dr Higes, principle researcher, in a press release.

The complete study can be reviewed in the journal Environmental Microbiology Reports, a new publication from the Society for Applied Microbiology.

Click the following links for a few interesting articles about Colony Collapse Disorder (Silence of the Bees, hcn.org) as well as some past research on the Nosema ceranae parasite.


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