The group was so big, it was even picked up by the weather radar.

By Stacey Leasca
June 07, 2019

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s ... a ladybug bloom?

On Tuesday, meteorologists in Southern California got quite a shock when looking at the radar screen. Hovering over San Diego County appeared to be a large storm cloud. However, it was no weather event at all, but rather a massive swarm of ladybugs making their way through the area.

Michael Sewell/Getty Images

“The large echo showing up on SoCal radar this evening is not precipitation, but actually a cloud of ladybugs termed a ‘bloom,’” NWS San Diego tweeted about the radar screen.

Joe Dandrea, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told The Los Angeles Times he estimated the bloom to be about 80 miles by 80 miles. The bugs were flying somewhere between 5,000 to 9,000 feet in the air. Though the bugs appeared to take over the radar screen, observers on the scene didn’t see a massive swarm, but rather, “little specks flying by,” according to Dandrea.

The bugs, NBC reported, were detectable thanks to super detailed radar deployed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The program called NEXRAD, or Next-Generation Radar, allows for highly detailed images that often pick up bug swarms, big migrations, and even wind farms around the country.

The Los Angeles Times reported that California is home to some 200 species of ladybugs, including the convergent lady beetle. However, it wasn’t immediately clear what type of ladybug caused the radar takeover.

Citing the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program, the paper also explained that each year in early spring, when temperatures reach 65 degrees or above in the area, the adult convergent lady beetles mate and migrate from the Sierra Nevada to valley areas to chow down on aphids and lay their eggs. Then, in the early summer, the beetles migrate again to higher elevations to eat and start the entire process over again.

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