What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

deformed ladybug?
Is this a ladybug? If so, what’s wrong? I thought it might still be in morphing process.
Lee Hooker
Dallas, GA

Hi again Lee,
We are not sure if this is part of normal metamorphosis or not. Perhaps the Ladybird has just emerged from the pupa and the wing elytra have not fully expanded and hardened. It is also possible that this is a birth defect brought on by trauma or genetics due to global warming or rampant pesticide use. We favor the metamorphosis hypothesis.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

5 Responses to Ladybird Beetle: Birth defect or normal metamorphosis?????

  1. shaunotd says:

    Hi All,
    We recently had a large local outbreak of Multi-coloured Asian Ladybirds – so many that they ran out of prey, and the larvae started to attack their older brothers & sisters as they pupated. They often didn’t kill them though, and the adults that emerged from the damaged pupae had permanent deformities looking like this.

  2. Humberto says:

    To add to the comment by shaunotd, I also recently observed agressive behavior from an adult ladybug toward a freshly hatched one, also resulting from a lack of prey. The older one chewed on the younger one’s wing elytra. I promptly separated them, but the damage was done. I learned that when a ladybug has just emerged from its pupa, the elytra are incredibly soft, about as soft as shopping bag plastic, and very easily damaged/dented. I’m sure the poor ladybug in the photo above was attacked by something immediately after emerging, before the elytra could harden. Ladybugs don’t normally attack each other, but when they run out of prey, even if just for a few hours, they start to consider each other fair game. And that includes adults, larvas, and eggs too. I raised around 25 of them in an enclosure recently. As larvas, together they would easily devour around 300 aphids every 24 hours! It was a huge challenge to feed them properly in their final days before pupating, when they were largest and hungriest. I did not see any pupas get harmed, but I did see many eggs get eaten, as well as larger larvas eating their much smaller larva siblings when I wasn’t looking. Sometimes they would run out of prey late at night, and they wouldn’t wait until the next morning to get their new batch of aphids. I couldn’t have fed any more of them, so the loss of many of the eggs from cannibalism was okay, but I really went to great lengths to protect the first 25 ladybugs. Only one of them died (the one that was attacked just after emerging). I don’t know why, it looked like only the elytra had been hurt, and I could still have fed it, but it still died.

    • bugman says:

      Wow, thanks for your fascinating account of raising Lady Beetles.

      • Humberto says:

        You’re welcome, bugman! Actually, do you remember the ladybug that went in circles? Well, one thing led to another: one day I was out in the yard, gathering aphids to feed to my spinning ladybug (which I had decided to keep as a fun unusual pet!), when a red and black-spotted ladybug fell in my aphid catching cup. That spotted ladybug soon became a guest in the spinning one’s enclosure, and soon laid a lot of tiny yellow eggs. When the larvas hatched, I decided to raise them all until they became adults. Those adults were the same 25 I mentioned previously. I learned SO much about ladybugs in the process! I also learned about aphids. I can tell you that aphids rank very low in bug intelligence: They had this tendency to walk over anything in their way, even things that could eat them (larvas or ladybugs), and this often resulted in them getting devoured by a hungry larva. I also saw aphids run into each other and then try to walk over each other at the same time, rather than walking around each other. I also learned that a large ladybug larva can puncture a person’s skin if it is allowed to, causing a tiny red spot of blood to come out… I did not expect that. So, basically I made a ton of unusual little observations which are absent from most descriptions about ladybugs. I took photos while raising them, if you’re interested.

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