Monarch butterflies will be visiting Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont now through early next year.
In addition, the rainy season clustering of ladybugs is underway in various regional parks, but especially Redwood Park in Oakland.
Ladybugs are a variety of beetle. Entomologists call them ladybird beetles or lady beetles. There are many other varieties besides the red and black kind most of us know. In fact, there are approximately 175 species of ladybugs in California.
Gardeners like ladybugs because the beetles feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects that can damage plants. However, some ladybug varieties can be agricultural pests.
Ladybugs are preyed upon in turn by birds and other insects, although it’s said that their bad flavor serves as protection from most predators.
At Redwood Regional Park, the most predictable location to see ladybugs in great numbers is around the junction of the Prince and Stream trails. But wherever, you find the beetles, please do not gather any and take them home.
Regional Park rules prohibit collecting and removing plants and animals.
For a guided walk to find ladybugs, join naturalist Michael Charnofsky from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Dec. 13 at Redwood Regional Park. He will lead an easy, three-mile stroll along the Stream Trail.
Meet at the Canyon Meadow staging area off Redwood Road in Oakland. For information, call (510) 544-3187.
If you prefer birds to beetles, there’s a program about hummingbirds scheduled from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13 at the Botanic Garden in Tilden Regional Park near Berkeley. Interpretive student aide Leanne Grossman will discuss the world’s smallest birds and their unique physiology, and the group may spot some male hummingbirds doing their courtship acrobatics.
The program is free. The botanic garden is located at the intersection of Wildcat Canyon Road and South Park Drive. Since South Park Drive is closed, access is by way of Golf Course Road and Shasta Road off Grizzly Peak Boulevard. For information, call (510) 544-3187.
* Another program will highlight birds of San Francisco Bay amid late afternoon sunlight. It’s from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12 at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline in Richmond, led by naturalist Anthony Fisher.
Meet Anthony at the Point Pinole entrance on Giant Highway off Richmond Parkway.
Anthony will lead another bayside bird walk at the same time on Saturday, Dec. 19 at the Albany Bulb. Meet at the bay end of Buchanan Street in Berkeley.
For more information on either of Anthony’s programs, call (510) 544-2233.