Oh Boy! Look what I found! It’s a cluster of Asian Ladybugs (or Lady Beetles) hibernating under tree bark:
I’m currently reading a wonderful book by Bernd Heinrich titled, Winter World. In Heinrich’s book he describes various animal techniques for survival in the winter. The book takes you through animals/insects who look dead but are not and simply “defrost” at springtime to birds which do not hibernate, but have adapted strategies to keep their warmth and energy at a controllable levels. Very interesting!
Anyway, Heinrich encourages peaking under tree bark to see what you may find in the dead of winter. So I did! Oooooo!
I counted 18 Asian Beetles huddled together. I did not break off the bark, but simply pried it with one hand and took a photo with the other, recovering them when I was finished. Asian ladybugs are various in color (red, orange, yellow, yellow-green) and do not have predictable dot patterns on their back. One beetle may have two black spots and another eight.
With those exciting characteristics I couldn’t resist sketching them! Oh the variety!