Updated: June 26, 2009 at 12:00 am
If ladybugs are lucky, then luck is in the air in Colorado Springs ... and on the ground, and on the plants and, well, just about everywhere. The ladybugs are thick this year.
A ladybug flew into 3-year-old Raquel Venzor's hair on Friday at Fountain Creek Nature Center, and instead of being scared, the girl stood still so she didn't disturb the insect as it crawled around.
"They're cute and they've got spots," Raquel said. "I always dress up like a ladybug."
During a guided hike for toddlers at the nature center, the young explorers discovered hundreds of ladybugs. A patch of milkweed was crawling with the charismatic arthropods, as they devoured aphids and showed off their spots for the youngsters.
"They're all over right now," said mom Nicki Wentworth. "I've seen them everywhere - hundreds of them."
Nature center guide Paul Clark said he thinks rainfall is behind the bumper crop of ladybugs. More water equals more foliage and more aphids - and an abundance of their favorite snack equals more ladybugs. It's summertime, and the living is easy for the most popular beetle since The Beatles.
"We've had an explosion in the aphid population and, consequently, in the ladybug population," Clark said.
A few miles west, at Bear Creek Nature Center, it's the same story, said Ken Pals. Pals has worked for the El Paso County parks department for 30 years, and he can't remember seeing more ladybugs than he is right now.
At Springs Ranch Golf Club on the east side, the ladybugs are invading the fairways.
"I teach juniors on Thursday morning," said golf instructor Joe Nelson, "and they're getting distracted by the number of ladybugs."
But no one seems to mind too much.
Gardeners love ladybugs because they eat pests and protect their plants. Ladybugs can't hurt humans. They're reputed to bring good luck. Plus, they're just so darn cute.
Clark said as he gives tours, the adults set the tone for which bugs are likable: butterflies, roly-polies and ladybugs get the love. And, as if the spots and pretty colors weren't advertisement enough, the name is a marketer's dream.
"They're ‘lady' bugs, so they're gentle and lovely," Clark said. "Everybody loves them."
Call the writer at 636-0226.