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Convergent Lady Beetle

Massive ladybug swarm appears on the weather radar

A normal Tuesday night for meteorologists at California turned into a strange surprise when they spotted a huge blob on their National Weather Service Radar which appeared to be 130 by 130 kilometres and was noticed to be moving southwards over the San Bernardino County.

The blob was a strange phenomenon owing to the relatively normal weather conditions on that day with no expectations of rain or thunderstorms as claimed by meteorologist Casey Oswant of the National Weather Service in San Diego but that was not the case as per the radar data. A local weather spotter was requested to eyeball the mass; there was no rain actually on the location even though the radar showed raindrop sized objects. The weather spotters had identified ladybugs and the conclusion was drawn that the giant weird blob was due to a tremendous swarm of red beetles on the move. California is home to 200 species which is the reason as to why these ladybugs could not be identified but it is said to be a Hippodamia Convergens which is a convergent ladybug.

They were spotted flying at an altitude close to 1.5 to 2.7 kilometres. The main mass of the supposed swarm was not as spread out as seen on the radar. It was consolidated in an area of 16 kilometres across and it was noticed that the ladybugs were spread out and not consolidated in one place. Ladybugs migrate to milder climates with warm weather in order to survive the snowy weather and return back in spring to feast on a glut of aphids.

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An entomologist at the Cornell University named John Losey has stated a worry in this observation as to why we are seeing this big swarm now and why this was not observed initially. He believes it might have to do something with climate change. The best possibility would be that California might be a suitable place for the environment of ladybugs. The team is working hard to confirm this idea but have not turned up with suitable evidence.

An entomologist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology claimed that the temperatures were cooler than the ladybugs generally prefer. The ladybug theory is a bit hard to believe as these insects generally do not travel in swarms of close to millions of bees which are necessary to produce a radar echo is what ecologist James Cornett has to say on this issue. There is a possibility that we may never possibly know what caused the mystery signal.

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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