Little scarlet bug with black dots ”- that’s the name of the ladybug in the“ Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language ”by Vladimir Dahl.
A small red bug with seven black dots - this is how we know a ladybug resembling a tiny turtle in shape. However, the family of ladybugs is so vast, and their different species are so little alike that it is sometimes difficult to guess that the captured insect is a “scarlet bug”.
Ladybugs are not necessarily red, and dots are not necessarily black, and in general there may be no dots, there may be stripes, spots and even commas. Moreover, the same kind of ladybug can vary greatly in color. Ladybugs are very useful insects, but they are useful precisely because they are predators. They eat countless legions of aphids, and if this did not happen, in many areas of the country, aphids would gobble up all the gardens, forests and vegetable gardens.
Why was this insect called a cow, although it does not resemble a cow on any side? Why in Europe are they also called sun bugs, sun calves and God's sheep? Having glanced once again at Dahl’s omnipotent dictionary, we can assume that the name of the bug comes from the word “loaf”. Indeed, many objects with a rounded like a mushroom head shape are called derivatives of the word loaf. Carpenters call a cow a rounded log at the end of a log, a loaf is boulder stones, cheese, and mushrooms with a large hat. In many places, some types of mushrooms are called kovyatniki, and the porcini mushroom in the Vladimir region is called a cow. "God's little calves", etc., according to the entomologist A. S. Rozhkov, a distortion of the ancient Slavic name of our insect.
But not in order to establish this truth, I want to talk about ladybugs. The highest happiness for a naturalist is always the discovery of a new phenomenon, previously unknown to anyone, even specialists. But if a naturalist secondarily “discovers” an already known phenomenon, this also brings a lot of joy.
What I want to talk about is undoubtedly an interesting phenomenon in the life of cows, and although it is known to experts, it seems that it has not yet been explained, Neither surveys of experts, nor reading of literature, nor personal observations told me anything about its reasons.
Once, in the middle of June, I was walking along the shore of Lake Baikal and suddenly I was surprised to see a bright red ribbon on the stones that I had not noticed before. Ladybugs sat in huge numbers near the water itself. In places there were so many ladybugs that the stones seemed red. Along the shore stretched a bright red ribbon fifty centimeters wide.
Not all insects were visible from above, their main mass was on the lower and lateral surfaces of stones. The tape either approached the water, then moved away from it to a distance of two meters. In order to make even an approximate idea of the number of ladybugs, we carried out their accounting. On average, there were about six hundred of them per square meter of tape. On one kilometer of the coast that day there were at least six hundred thousand insects. Accumulations of ladybirds were observed for several more days in a row over more than a hundred kilometers of the northwestern coast of Lake Baikal. In the area of Cape Ryty, on one of the stones, more than one hundred and twenty insects huddled together in a tight pile.
Ladybugs belonged to ten different species; Much more often than others, a seven-point ladybug and a ladybird under the scientific name "Anatis Ocelate" were found. For the first time in Eastern Siberia, we found here a small yellow ladybug, flat and oblong, with eight white circles on each elytra. There was also a remarkably extremely variable in color Gobler's cow - "Goblery's Paramisia." According to the yellowish-reddish background of its elytra, all kinds of stripes and commas are located along it, which vary greatly in shape and position. Several specimens of a rather rare ladybug were decorated with long longitudinal yellow stripes. This species is widespread in Western Siberia, but is rare in Eastern Siberia. Gobler's cow dominates here.
Most of the insects sat motionless on the stones close to each other, and it was difficult to understand what they needed here. From time to time, some bug took to the air and flew into the forest. Sometimes it was possible to observe how single cows appeared from the taiga and sat on stones. Only a few matching pairs were seen on the stones. Maybe they fly to the stones because it is easier for them here to find each other for procreation? Or maybe they flock here to a watering hole?
The same accumulations of insects were observed, as we know, on the shores of Lake Issyk in Kazakhstan. In foreign literature, a message flashed about the mass accumulations of ladybugs on the African coast. Apparently, similar gatherings of ladybugs occur in other places. I spoke about the mass accumulation of ladybugs on the shore of Lake Baikal in the journal Science and Life (No. 9, 1967). The message caused a lot of responses. Dozens of letters received by the editorial board reported the sudden appearance of ladybugs in various, sometimes completely unexpected places: on the shores of seas, rivers and large reservoirs, on mountain passes at an altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, on telegraph poles and large buildings ... Most of the meetings took place in late July, August and early September, but the sudden appearance of bugs was noted at the end of May. Here are some of the letters we received.
“September 11 afternoon in sunny weather, our entire five-story house was literally covered with ladybugs. Bugs languidly moved along the wall lit by the sun. The kids, attracted by this unprecedented event, swept the ladybugs off the walls with branches and stamped them with their feet. When it was explained to them that they were useful insects, the children began to pour handfuls of them into boxes and drag them to the nearest school garden. Exactly the same story repeated exactly one week later. Why did insects choose only our home? Not a single bug was found on any of the neighboring houses. ” I.A. Vyakin, Krasnoyarsk.
“For several years in a row I have been relaxing in Sevastopol, and I go swimming in Omega Bay, on the“ wild ”beach. Around July 24-25, every year from 12 to 15 hours clouds of ladybirds fly from land to sea. At a height of 1-1.2 meters from the ground, the air darkens with insects. They “plop” on the body and bite (like flies in a certain period) very painfully. It is ridiculous to watch the beach at this time. People jump up, jump, swirl, waving clothes, and run into the water. I myself had to sit in the water at a distance of 100-150 meters from the shore for several hours, until the "onslaught" of the cows subsided. After that, a red border 1.5-2 meters wide appears near the coast. Cows almost all die by the water. ” Krylova E.I., Murmansk.
“On May 6 and 8, I was going down from the dam of the Dneprodzerzhinsk Hydroelectric Power Station to the banks of the Dnieper River. Suddenly, I was struck by a huge number of ladybugs. They crawled along the side of the dam in such numbers that there were several dozen of them on each blade of grass. Stepping on the grass, I lifted part of the cows into the air, and they literally stuck around me, began to crawl over me and even, as it seemed to me, bite slightly. Brushing them off, I started to run. " Nikolsky I.P., Moscow.
“Taking part in a hike to the places of military glory of our fathers, we passed through the passes of the Western Caucasus. And on the glaciers and snows covering the Kizgych Yuzhny-11 and Kizgych Yuzhny-Sh passes, as well as the well-known Alibeksky, at an altitude of over 3,000 meters, we saw countless orange and dark orange ladybugs with black dots on the snow, I don’t an entomologist could not determine what species they belonged to. It is interesting that they, just as O. Gusev describes, sit on small pebbles dotted with snowfields and glaciers. I would like to know about the opinions of specialists on the pages of our magazine. ” V. Smagliev, Kuibyshev.
“I inform you of a curious phenomenon. In early January 1968, ladybugs began to appear (for two weeks now) in our apartment. We found a large number of ladybugs between the frames of one of the windows. Some of these cows are crawling, but most are in a sleeping state. Where did they come from in the winter? ” Dejanov D.E., Vladimir.
© Kristopher Anderson
Specialists know that in spring and autumn ladybugs go on long journeys. They gather in huge flocks and fly in the fall to wintering places, in the spring to summer "pastures". In mountainous countries, cows winter in the subalpine or subalpine belt, where they clog under mosses and in close layers on top of each other under deep snow cover they spend the winter. Places of massive wintering of ladybugs in countries with a flat landscape are almost unknown.
Few people manage to find flocks of ladybugs in the air. They are simply not visible at high altitude. The reason for the sudden appearance of cows in places unusual for them is most often some kind of obstacle that impedes the flight - a very strong wind, rain, and water. When flying through large bodies of water, insects get very tired and tend to fall to land as soon as possible. Therefore, most often their accumulations are found on the shores of the seas and reservoirs. Storm winds may cause a lot of ladybugs to be in the water. Having got wet in the water, the bugs can no longer rise in the air, but sway for many days on its surface until finally the wave throws them onto land and folds them in the form of a roller along the surf line. Many cows die, but many crawl out to dry places and dry out.
© Velo Steve
Most of the meetings with ladybugs described in the letters of our correspondents are undoubtedly connected with spring and autumn flights. Some of these extremely interesting posts remain a mystery. In my note, I talked about another phenomenon. The composition of the cows sitting on the stones along the shore of Lake Baikal was constantly updated: single cows rose from the stones and flew into the taiga, and more and more insects came to replace them. This phenomenon is not connected with the flight; its reason for me remains unclear.
Ladybug on the website www.zooex.baikal.ru