Best time to travel to California

Ladybug in California

Everybody loves when a cute ladybug lands on one's palm. What about hundreds of thousands at once? This can happen near San Francisco in California

Best time: November


Ladybug clusters on long tree branches resemble some red berries or tiny flowers, and when they cover the entire area of a tree trunk, it is even more confusing. Such an amusing sight may be seen during ladybug migrations from cold to warm wintering sites, and then in reverse.

This natural phenomenon may be seen in various corners of the planet, and its variable route is hardly predictable as well as the season itself, so ladybug invasions mostly catch everyone by surprise. One of the most bewildering ladybug invasions happened in 2009 when tonnes of beetles surprised a town in Colorado with a spontaneous massive visit. The entire neighbourhood teemed with ladybugs.

This may occasionally happen here and there, but there is one approved site where they are observed annually in late November. This is Muir Woods National Park in California, less than 20 km from San Francisco. They love hanging out around the crossroads of Prince Trail and Stream Trail. But be careful not to stamp on a bundle—they are everywhere in the grass. Another great spot to watch the hibernating ladybugs is the Redwood Regional Park.

The ladybugs 'winter gathering' around San Francisco usually lasts from November when they arrive until February when they slowly leave. The best time to spot the red trunks is still November, as later on ladybugs hibernate in trunk holes. They will come out again in sping to mate and soon leave for home.

An interesting fact is they will never come back again, for they live only one year, but the next generation will find the spot, and huge ladybug congress will happen again. Scientists don't know for sure, but it's supposed the beetles follow feromone tracks left by previous generations.

Practical info

When is the best time to spot ladybug clusters in California?

Late November is the ideal time to observe ladybug clusters in California, which appear in Muir Woods National Park and the Redwood Regional Park. During this time, these insects gather together before hibernating. Ladybugs can be spotted easily in November and continue till February. The ladybug-cluster is visible across the red trees as these beetles start to hibernate only by December. This is the perfect time to witness these beautiful creatures in California. Show more

Where can I witness ladybug migrations in California?

Ladybugs in California gather in colonies in Muir Woods National Park, a less than 20 km distance from San Francisco, and the Redwood Regional Park, which is located in San Francisco Bay Area. Muir Woods is easier to access than the latter, as they have ideal locations for hibernating groups. In other parts of California, ladybugs are found alone and in smaller numbers. However, these two parks are where you should go to witness the stunning scenes of ladybug migrations in California. Show more

What causes massive ladybug invasions to occur?

Ladybugs' massive invasions are a result of their migration from cold to warm wintering sites and back again in reverse. The route they take is unpredictable, and they often take scientists and others by surprise. For months, these ladybug clusters can be seen in California, especially in San Francisco, where they hibernate in great numbers. Some scientists speculate that beetles may follow pheromone calls or trails laid down by previous groups. Show more

How long do ladybugs gather in California before they leave?

Ladybugs arrive in California around November in great numbers and stay for almost four months until February when they depart. However, as the season progresses, they start hibernation in trunk holes, making spotting them harder. When they leave California, ladybugs lay eggs and mate elsewhere and do not return. The next generation may follow pheromone trails in search of food and suitable wintering sites and gather in the same spot. Show more

Do ladybugs return to the same spot every year?

Ladybugs do not return to the same spot every year because their lifespan is only one year long. Even though ladybugs lay eggs that hatch in the same spot, they migrate hundreds of miles in search of food and suitable wintering sites. Scientists believe that beetles use pheromone trails to navigate and rejoin previous gatherings. Nonetheless, ladybugs' annual migration is a fascinating and surprising spectacle to see. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin