A Northcoast Environmental Center cleanup crew spent part of Sunday at Point St. George, a site regularly monitored by the NEC. We expected to find trash (we did), and we thought we might find debris from the 2011 Japan tsunami (we may have), but seeing hundreds and hundreds of ladybugs on the beach surprised us. 

They clung to driftwood…

Ladybug! By Jennifer Savage.

And scrambled along shells…

Ladybug! By Jennifer Savage.

A post to Facebook prompted several responses – this phenomenon wasn’t limited to Crescent City. Reports came in that the cheery little beetles were also all over Shelter Cove. 

Ladybug at Black Sands Beach by Estelle Fennell.

Our colleague, Friends of Del Norte’s Joe Gillepsie, said it’s not all that uncommon – that this happens with some regularity, ladybugs blowing in on the winds by the thousands. A quick Google search backed him up and led to all kinds of info about “ladybug washups.” Why this happens has yet to be completely understood. From the Lost Ladybug Project:

“Still debated are the questions of how and why the ladybugs come to gather on shorelines, and how long they can float.  Ideas fall into two categories:  those based on ladybugs floating to shore, and those suggesting that ladybugs are gathering at the shore from land.  Either route would require large numbers of ladybugs to simultaneously take flight.”

Still, while lacking the drama of other recent washups, seeing so many ladybugs at the beach doesn’t happen every day. Report your own sightings in the comment section! And any further information as to the why of the washing up is greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, ladybugs weren’t the only tiny things covering Point St. George and Kellogg beaches – microplastics lined the tideline like I’ve never seen before. 

Bits of plastic were everywhere. By Jennifer Savage.

NEC Coastal Programs Coordinator Madison Peters holds ten seconds’ worth of microplastic collection.

The best way to reduce this kind of litter is not to make it in the first place: Avoid plastics when possible, recycle or otherwise dispose of them properly when not. This stuff is a challenge to clean up, but you can help by joining the NEC, PacOut Green Team, Humboldt County Clean Up or any of the other groups working to make our beaches better places.