Ladybird. Ladybug. Lady beetle. Lady cow. Ladybird beetle. All names for one of the most easily recognized insects in the world.
Or rather one of the most easily recognized entire families of insect, Coccinellidae. it turns out there are more than 5,000 species of Ladybird beetles in the world, and 450 of them live in North America.
For reference, there are only 5,416 species of mammal in the world, and 474 in North America.
This particular swarm of Coccinellids filled every crevice in the bark of a ponderosa pine next to the South Yuba River. I’m not an entomologist, but with the cold weather setting in I’d guess they’re getting ready to hibernate.