Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SearchResearch Challenge (2/8/17): Large numbers of ladybugs and dogfish?

A large number of any living
creatures moving together
is always a sight to behold... 

It could be the vast rivers of wildebeests that annually migrate in Africa, or millions of passenger pigeons that once darkened the skies of North America, or the monarch butterflies that travel in gigantic swarms from the US to southern Mexico in the fall, but in all cases, the earth moves and we're amazed.  

This week we want to search out two particular kinds of swarming animals to get a sense for how many of them move en masse together, and how they're doing these days.  

When I was walking through Yosemite Valley in the fall, I spotted a huge number of ladybugs clustered together on a rock wall.  I estimated there were at least 1 million bugs packed cheek-by-jowl (or antennae to elytra, in the case of the bugs) along that 50 meters of wall.  

1. What's the largest ladybug grouping together that you can find?  (Or a swarm, or a loveliness of ladybugs, although that mass noun is disputed.... but it's such a great term!) 
2. While you're thinking about ladybugs in large groups, sometimes vast numbers of ladybugs somehow die-off together.  Can you find out how / when / why this happens?  What are these mass die-offs called? (In the special case of ladybugs, there's one particular term that's used.) 
3. The spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) is a remarkable fish. Like many fish, they often school in large numbers.  What's the largest report of a dogfish school you can find?  

As always, I'm interested in the answers... but also REALLY interested in how you found this out. 

What search terms did you use to find the largest ladybug loveliness?  What resources did you check to find out about the spiny dogfish schools?  

Teachers:  These Challenges are especially great for your students.  The search process here can be simple, or very, very sophisticated, and it lets interested students dig deep into the natural history of these social animals.  


  1. btw - Dan — just a heads up if you haven't already visited… found after the sRs Farallones search - V☆ delectables. Much running required afterwards ;)
    Devil's Teeth Bakery

    [ladybugs in yosemite]
    in Yosemite… in the snow - with kids
    the kos 411
    Lost Ladybug Project
    couldn't find the die-off term, but did find "diapause" - ⬇ has video - how they clear TSA & fly to the mountains; e.g., Yosemite… not really clear how they get back to the Tenderloin…
    a books reference - at altitudes above 13,000 feet
    bug super models
    another place to look

    "The familiar Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias), which has been recorded at depths ranging from the surface down to at least 2,950 feet (900 metres), holds yet another distinction: it may be the most abundant species of shark, being the only one that supports fisheries of a size rivaling those of the more commercially important bony fishes. In a time of peak abundance between 1904 and 1905, an estimated 278 million Spiny Dogfish were taken off the coast of Massachusetts, USA, each year. The Spiny Dogfish is probably the best-known shark, particularly from a morphological, experimental, and fisheries biological standpoint — although its ecology and behavior are less well known than those of some other sharks. Female Spiny Dogfish reach sexual maturity at about 24 years of age, delivering up to 20 young after a gestation period of 18 to 24 months. An extremely long-lived species, the Spiny Dogfish is known to reach an age of at least 70 years."

    1. Hello Remmij! I found your YouTube video searching [Ladybugs gathering] there is another one that is really good. In yours it is amazing how they look in snow. I didn't know they hibernate. My mom says she has seen some here but in color green.

    2. Buenos días, Remmij! Thanks for the links. Yes, I think so.

      Watching your video, YouTube suggested among others these:

      What Do Ladybugs Eat: Facts About Ladybugs

      Ladybug Life Cycle

      And as still no answer to Q2 tried [ladybugs mate season name] Australian Ladybugs in California (1905) and they can eat in space (1999)

    3. I'll have to try the Devil's Teeth Bakery. I pass through that part of town all the time, but haven't ever stopped there. Thanks for the tip!

  2. ha love your blog [column?]
    A group of half a million ladybugs—a record-breaking number—was found clustered together and hibernating in a barn in the United Kingdom.

    ok, not verified, but hey it's Ranger Rick! 3 clicks all with copy, right click ..... search then images, then well, there you go

  3. Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    1. What's the largest ladybug grouping together that you can find?

    [ladybug grouping]

    What is a group of ladybugs called? and more facts

    Why do ladybugs gather in massive swarms?

    Includes video (from Pbs), a link to Aggregation:Invasion (lots of them in the photo) and citizen science programs

    The Lost Ladybug Project

    Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lady Bugs (But Never Thought to Ask)

    ["loveliness ladybugs"] and [["loveliness of ladybugs"] in both ALL and Images to find lots of them.

    2. While you're thinking about ladybugs in large groups, sometimes vast numbers of ladybugs somehow die-off together. Can you find out how / when / why this happens? What are these mass die-offs called?

    ["loveliness of ladybugs" death name]

    Hibernating Ladybirds? That links to:

    Insects survive cold temperatures by changes in their biology. This can be one of two types: hibernation or diapause.

    [massive ladybugs death name]

    Ladybugs FAQ

    The strange life cycle of ladybug The male only can mate with same specie of ladybug and they (ladybugs) also eat scale insects, mealybugs and mites.

    [ ladybugs reunion facts] Winter hibernation and matting.

    While reading, found many of them on Lake Michigan so [ladybugs gathering Lake Michigan]

    Ladybug Washups. First noticed 1873

    [Ladybugs die together] nothing

    [why ladybugs die in groups]

    Clustering allows individuals to be protected

    [ ladybugs die-off ]

    2009: Why Are Native Ladybugs Disappearing?

    1. [ladybirds massive deaths event] and [ladybirds natural massive deaths event]

      The red and black insects have covered every possible inch of the 20-acre farm site since arriving last month.

      Tens of millions of ladybirds infested a small town in the US state of Colorado, turning trees blood red, in 2009.

      Chapter 7 - Ladybird Death. Cambridge not access to link

      [ladybird insect group death] in books.

      Still no answer.

      From Wikipedia: animal mass death events (sometimes referred to as Aflockalypse)

      [Define Aflockalypse]

      3. The spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) is a remarkable fish. Like many fish, they often school in large numbers. What's the largest report of a dogfish school you can find?

      [Dogfish fish] then [dogfish fish school gathering], [dogfish fish school report]

      Still nothing

    2. Related to our previous SRS Challenge
      Experience Virtual Reality on the web with Chrome Google Blog continues:...You can already try out some great VR-enabled sites, with more coming soon... For a fully immersive experience, use Chrome with your Daydream-ready phone and Daydream View—just browse to a VR experience you want to view, choose to enter VR, and put the phone in your Daydream View headset. If you don’t have a headset you can view VR content on any phone or desktop computer and interact using your finger or mouse...

      I wonder if soon we will have a search option to find these VR-enabled sites or how can we find them. In any case, I am sure we will have lots of great moments and learning with VR and Google Chrome.

    3. Good Morning, Dr. Russell!

      Yesterday I was watching YouTube and searched [ Daniel Russell Google] filter last year. And found new conferences of yours. I am watching, learning and re-learning. Always super interesting. Liked how you mention that "space" in writing is a tool. And yes, it is very helpful.

      While watching, I thought 2 ideas to try:

      1. How Ctrl-F works with words at the end of a line? That is if we search for one word and one of those is divided, Ctr-F will show it as a total result? I tried this and still not finding words in this format to try. I think now sites avoid dividing words at the end of the line.

      2. Is there a way to find information that is showed in a video description on YouTube? I am trying and found this information looking the query in videos tab. Is this a good way to search Dr. Russell? That also makes me think how amazing will be one day, in the future, when we can find information mentioned in one video.

  4. Grayfish… vitamin A - pages 25-27, 1943 -47, 1928-29, 1940-41, 1949, 1957 major fishing -

    Woods Hole, 1961

    .. At times, however, dogfish may come into shallow water in the winter. Collins (1883) quotes an item in the newspaper "Cape Ann Advertiser" dated February 10, 1882: "Immense schools of dogfish, extending as far as the eye can reach, have appeared off Portsmouth, an unusud. sight in winter. "

    "The total population of the spiny dogfish is not known. although there is no doubt that it is relatively abundant and is subject to large fluctuations in abundance. In the spring of 1846 they were so numerous around Gay Head. Massachusetts. that 600 were caught on hooks in one day by the crew of a single boat (Storer. 1867)."

    from schools of dogfish ➦ dogfish for lunch at schools…

    looking for markets… "rock salmon" "The dish can be one of many species of small shark, including the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), Rough-hound (Scyliorhinus canicula) or the bull huss (Scyliorhinus stellaris). Rock salmon is consumed in many European countries."
    24 million lbs. - 2013
    contradictory info… terms & regions
    UK example
    the Daily Mail article

  5. Keywords [ladybugs en masse]
    Lots of videos in search results

  6. Related to our previous Soda Challenge:

    I was watching a video about why are called soft drinks from Today I Found Out; that are pretty amazing.

    And then tried [why beverages are called pop]

    What is soft about a soft drink? What does soda have to do with sodium?...the employees who worked these fountains were called...

    Another recommended series of videos (in Spanish) are WildFrank. He travels the world and shows animals living in their habitat. I found some on YouTube of his adventures in Australia and watching TV Series on Animal Planet in Mexico