Ladybugs in the Central Highlands Winter

With short days, cool temperatures, and a progression of celebratory occasions – November and December are times where we often gather together, eat a lot of food, and nestle in our homes with blankets, slippers, and sometimes a fire. We are reminded of the importance of shelter and family, not unlike many animals of the Central Highlands. This November, I took a hike up Mount Tritle on a windy and cold afternoon. I proceeded to poke around some of the older agaves and was pleasantly surprised to find a familiar red beetle. Tucked in between the individual leaves of multiple agaves were hundreds of ladybugs, Coccinellidae, rooted in the Latin word for “scarlet.” These insects are woven into our stories in positive ways, in part due to their diet of “pesky” crop eaters. Their bright color, thought to be an “I taste bad” warning to potential predators, also catches our attention. Ladybugs overwinter together in large groups, and in the Central Highlands, an ideal place to do this is inside the agave. In 2020 many of us spent more time than usual in our various “shelters”. As we move into the winter holidays, let the ladybug be a symbol of gratitude for these homes and our loved ones. Stay warm, stay out of the wind, and stay together. But if you do venture out on a cold winter day, take a peek in between some agave leaves and experience this wonder of nature for yourself.