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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ladybug Migration at Redwood Regional Park

We get some pretty amazing animal migrations happening here in the Bay Area.

There are the monarch butterflies that call coastal areas such as Pacific Grove and Santa home during the Winter months. There is the ever so creepy tarantula migration around Halloween on the aptly named Mount Diablo just east of the Bay Area. Seriously, that's a real thing! There are the majestic grey whales that migrate along the California coast from Mexico to Alaska. And right here in Oakland there is a ladybug migration! Ladybugs! Can you think a cuter animal migration to witness?

Yesterday we decided to go check out the ladybugs for ourselves after seeing a few friends sharing about them on social media. I knew that there were going to be thousands of ladybugs, but I really wasn't prepared for just how many we would see. It really was amazing.

Every Winter huge numbers of ladybugs make their way to a particular spot in Redwood Regional park in the Oakland Hills. They come here in swarms. Thousands and thousands, maybe even millions, of ladybugs all in the one spot. It really is a sight to see.

To see the ladybug migration start at Skyline Gate entrance to the park. There is a decent sized parking lot here with bathrooms (long drop toilets only and no sink, so pack the hand sanitizer) plus more parking on the street.

The ladybugs can be seen along the Stream Trail. There are three trails that start at this gate, so make sure to read the signs to ensure you start on the right path. The main site for the ladybug migration is the intersection of Stream Trail and Prince Trail. This particular spot is sign posted (with temporary signage) as a Ladybug Crossing, and while we did see lots of ladybugs here we actually saw a lot more in another spot about half way along the trail, so keep your eyes peeled as you hike.

Wondering what to look for? Well, our first sign that we'd come across a ladybug site was all the people with cameras looking into the undergrowth along the side of the path! Of course, if you visit on a quiet day, that's not going to be the case. What you should look out for is areas of what looks like orange/red foliage on the ground. Look a little closer and you'll noticed that this "foliage" is actually thousands of ladybugs. Listen a little closer and you'll hear the sounds of them crawling around. Never thought I'd be able to say that I could hear ladybugs!

After we spent quite some time checking out the ladybugs at the first spot we continued our hike toward the intersection with Prince Trail. The first part of the trail leads through shorter brush type trees and is quite sunny. Just after we left the first ladybugs the path led further downhill and the landscape changed and we found ourselves surrounded by towering redwoods. Down here it was cooler and shadier with moss growing on rocks, trees and the fencing along the steep drops. We found various types of fungus growing along the edges of the trail.

A little further along we found ourselves at the intersection of Prince Trail and sure enough, there were ladybugs everywhere again. There weren't quite as many in this particular spot, but it was still an amazing sight. Here the lady bugs we on poles, fencing, signage and park benches where as in the other spot they were mostly among the foliage. Mathilde was convinced that the ladybugs on the park bench and pole needed help getting to the leaves so she made it her mission to try and move them one at a time. Obviously she didn't get very far!

There were so many ladybugs around that at any point you were pretty much guaranteed to have at least one or two climbing on you! I had them climbing up my legs and in my boots. The girls had them on their hands and clothes and even in their hair! At one point there were quite a few climbing on my phone after I put it down on the park bench.

From the intersection with Prince Trail we turned around and headed back up Stream Trail toward the parking lot. This makes about a 3.5 mile round trip. A fairly easy walk, although as it was all uphill on the way back (and quite steep at times) so Mathilde did need to be carried at times. If you'd prefer to make it a longer hike, you can always take a left at the intersection with Prince Trail and hike back up the hill along the Ridge Trail.

We stopped by that spot where we had first found the ladybugs for one more look on the way back. They really are such amazing, and cute, little creatures.

After saying goodbye to the ladybugs we continued our hike back to the parking lot. The girls were pretty excited that they got to see so many ladybugs, although Mathilde was a little upset that she couldn't bring any home with us. As Ava reminded her: "Take only photos and leave only footprints".

Have you seen a ladybug migration before? It really is a sight that has to be seen to be believed. I'm inspired to go check out the monarch butterfly migration spot in Pacific Grove now too.

For more information about Redwood Regional Park and the ladybug migration visit http://www.ebparks.org/parks/redwood.

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