Ladybug Invasion Paints Colorado Town Red

An adult Asian ladybeetle (Harmonia axyridis, Coccinellidae) sitting on a small twig

Stefan Rotter / iStock / Getty Images Plus

When a reporter with a bug phobia ventured out to Jefferson County to cover a story about a ladybug invasion, he told himself repeatedly that the little red bugs were harmless and cute. They don’t bite. Kids like them.

So Chris Vanderveen of 9NEWS was okay with the whole situation when he arrived on scene and a four-year-old boy showed him a few dozen ladybugs convened on a drain spout outside his parents’ home. This wasn’t too scary, and it certainly wasn’t the ‘crazy’ number of ladybugs he had been told to expect.

Then he reached the infested house at the top of a mountain.

“There were dozens of them floating in the air. And then we saw the back of the house. That very well could have been the moment that I lost my you know what,” Vanderveen reported on the 9NEWS website.

“They were covering the man's house. There were thousands of them. They landed on my shirt. They crawled up my pants. A couple were clearly squished in the bottom of my shoe. And yes, one even flew into my mouth.”

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The town, which doesn’t want the media knowing its exact location for fear of an influx of tourists, has so many ladybugs buzzing about that some trees, homes and grassy areas are just a mass of red.

The insects are out in force in the Front Range region of Colorado thanks to increased rainfall during spring and early summer. The additional moisture has made their food supply plentiful so their numbers have increased by 15 to 20 percent.

For Chris Vanderveen, the ladybug invasion was a chance to get over his fear of flying insects – at least temporarily. As they crawled up his leg, dropped down his shirt, took up residence in his hair and continued to fly toward his mouth, Vanderveen realized that they’re just ladybugs after all – nothing to be afraid of. But that doesn’t mean his phobia is gone for good.

“As for those pesky moths, yep, I still hate 'em. And I'm pretty sure they don't taste like chicken either.”