California Ladybug Swarm Was So Big It Showed Up on Radar as 80-Mile-Long 'Bloom'

A swarm of ladybugs in California was so big it showed up on a weather service radar map as an 80-mile-wide mass, according to officials.

The San Diego branch of the National Weather Service tweeted that a large "echo" which appeared on the SoCal radar wasn't rain, but in fact "a cloud of lady bugs."

This phenomena is known as a "bloom," according to the National Weather Service San Diego.

The large echo showing up on SoCal radar this evening is not precipitation, but actually a cloud of lady bugs termed a "bloom" #CAwx

— NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) June 5, 2019

National Weather Service meteorologist Miguel Miller meanwhile told local radio station KNX the bloom appeared on screens as 80 miles long and wide. It was traveling from the San Gabriel Mountains to San Diego.

The blob was pictured moving from the city of Barstow in San Bernadino County 80 miles south to Riverside, a city near Los Angeles. It covered an area of more than 1,000 square miles in total, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun.

Mark Moede, a meteorologist for the weather service, told the Palm Springs Desert Sun a weather spotter in Wrightwood in the San Bernardino mountains reported a higher than usual population of ladybugs. The weather service then linked the mass to this sighting.

Moede said: "He said there were ladybugs everywhere."

San Diego weather service meteorologist Casey Oswant told Palm Springs Desert Sun there weren't a lot of clouds in the area at the time the blob appeared.

"This radar return was much larger than what those clouds could've been producing," she said.

Oswant watched the patch heading southward on Wednesday morning, and disappearing from screens by noon. It was unclear where the insects were traveling from or to, she added.

However, one expert was skeptical that a loveliness (the collective noun for the insects) of ladybugs could show up so strongly on a radar map.

James Cornett, senior scientist at James W. Cornett Ecological Consultants, told the Palm Springs Desert Sun that the number of bugs needed to create such movement on equipment would have turned skies dark.

The insects are known to come together in large groups in winter and fall, but in the thousands, not tens of millions, he said.

Cornett said: "There would have been unbelievable numbers of telephone calls to the police. It merits some investigation."

However, NWS San Diego Joe Dandrea meteorologist told the Los Angeles Times the insects weren't grouping but rather spread out. The bugs were believed to have been flying at between 5,000 and 9,000 feet. One segment is thought to have spanned 10 miles wide.

ladybug lady bird insect nature stock getty
A weather spotter saw an unusually large number of ladybugs on Wednesday. Getty

Dandrea said: "I don't think they're dense like a cloud. The observer there said you could see little specks flying by."

Cornett went on to argue that ladybugs generally head north for food during the spring season, not south, don't tend to travel far, and their heavy wings likely wouldn't allow them to fly high enough to be picked up by radar equipment.

Cornett said the phenomenon was "unusual." He joked: "The world must be coming to an end."

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