Fun Learning– Lady Bugs, Habitat, and Climate Change?
Fun with Lady Bugs! The educational aspect of the Lucky Lady Bug Game continues through this blog and through more blogs to come. In this blog we will discuss the habitat required for Lady Bugs and some environmental findings that are very fascinating, which can also shed light, no pun intended, on some of the climate changes that we are experiencing in present times! Teachers have been very excited about the format of the Lucky Lady Bug Game for school curriculum. They feel that the game in the classroom can provide them with numerous avenues to teach children.
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs, and Math!
Everyone loves the Lady Bug! One obvious area of study could be entomology, the study of bugs. Just think there are about 5,000 different species of Lady Bugs in the world! They come in all different patterns and colors. Another area of study is habitat, and environmental concerns regarding pesticides and herbicides. Lady Bugs make a great Science Project for the classroom! Math is included with the accompanying playing cards included with the game. Social issues are addressed in playing of the game and through the unique scoring included in the Lucky Lady Bug Game! What a fun way to engage a classroom, family, or friends! Today’s blog highlights one of the more common Lady Bugs, native to the Western hemisphere. Let’s find out how the Lucky Lady Bug has informed us about the tilt of the earth in relation to the sun!
Lady Bugs Changing Environment
Well, with Winter upon us, it may be interesting to note that Ladybugs require specific habitat and location in accordance with the sun when they settle in for their snuggly Winter hibernation. The Lady Bug “Hippodamia Convergens” will gather in beds from five gallons to two hundred gallons of bugs, in an area of twenty-five to one thousand square feet! You may be wondering what makes up a gallon of Lady Bugs? One gallon of Convergent Lady Bugs equals approximately 45,000 to 55,000 bugs.
A perfect habitat includes a shady environment from June through mid-January, and from January to February they require direct sunlight. In the area in which we live Lady Bug migration occurs sometime in February. This is a result of strong downslope winds which come off of the mountain ranges, these winds heat by compression, thus creating warm winds that in turn trigger the migration of the Convergent Lady Bugs. These bugs ride the warm air currents to the warmer valleys below. There they find their favorite food, Aphids! The Aphids are feeding on the native and non-native plants.
In the Summer and fall months the Lady Bug’ habitat also requires “forest litter” in form of pine (fir) needles, leaves, and various forest debris which enables them to have a safe place to crawl under during the hot seasons. When Winter snow and rains come the Lady Bugs crawl up and out from under the forest litter, gathering and clustering into huge masses in the sunlight! This allows them to dry out and to warm their bodies so that they can move about and mate before their impending flight downslope to the warmer climates of the valleys below.
In twenty-five years of observation and documenting we have noted the areas where the bugs must go to find this perfect environment. A part of this observation resulted in noticing that the bugs go to areas that have direct sunlight between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM in mid-January and February. An interesting phenomenon that resulted from this observation is that these areas have shifted to the North and East. In California, Convergent Ladybugs, their offspring, will return to the exact location year after year.
Through the years there has been a slow but noticeable creep of the bedding locations, again, consistently to the North and East. As an example; the bedding areas that they had consistently bedded in for five or more years in the months of January and February no longer receive the direct sunlight that is so crucial for the bugs “perfect” environment. These areas do receive direct sunlight until after mid-February, which of course is too late for the major migration period. Recall that this is when they need the warmth to breed and to catch those downslope winds that carry them to the valleys below. This is occurring in approximately 80% of the locations that we have observed. What of the other 20% of locations? Well these locations have specific reasons for the sunlight changes, within the time parameters that we are discussing. The primary cause is growth of trees which block the sunlight.
Observations and a Shifting Earth?
You may be wondering where we are going with these observations of the habitat for Ladybugs. Let me regale you with another observation which supports the premise that the sunlight seems to be migrating North and East. Having farmed, and more recently gardened, we are observant of the elements. We have planted onions in the winter time garden of 2017-18 in exactly the same place that we had planted 5 years ago, just north of the chicken house. This particular year (2017-18) the onions were in the shade, whereas previously they were in sunlight. Now, had we planted them 6 feet to the North they would have been in the direct sunlight on the shortest days, which we did this year! Trees were not the cause, nor was the chicken house–that surely did not grow! Is it the wobble in the Earth’s rotation causing the sun to shine slowly to the North and East, are the Earth’s poles migrating as the wobble pulls them to a new polarity as suggested by many native tribes?
We do not know, but it is most noticeable and we are searching for answers, but for now let it suffice that we along with many others are noticing this shift in the sun angles to the earth. Be aware when you are in the woods in a favorite spot that you may continually return to, be aware when you are planting or working in your garden during these Winter months. Let us, in this case, give credit to the Lucky Lady Bug whose habitat has given us awareness of this particular and natural earth change.