What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Strange Ladybug behavior (keeps walking in circles)
Location: Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico
March 11, 2014 4:45 pm
Hi Bugman,
A week ago from now, I found a ladybug in our backyard that could only walk in circles. It was in direct sunlight, just going round and round, so I decided to do something to prevent a likely death from dehydration, and brought it inside.
It’s been with me for the last 7 days, and I have been feeding it small insects when I can, and when I can’t, it seems to enjoy feeding on rice and sugar. I’ve also been keeping a wet Q-tip in its “cage”. But after 7 days, even when it seems to still be in good health, it is still going round and round, and hasn’t stopped.
Just yesterday, I noticed that it began to walk in straight segments for the first time, but each straight run would still always end up in turning back and completing a loop. It also will not fly, although sometimes it extends its wings a bit.
So, my question is not what kind of bug this is, but rather, why is it displaying such bizarre behavior. All of its legs are intact and move fluidly. Is it possible that it was just born crazy somehow? Was its nervous system damaged by a pesticide possibly? As far as I know, there are no pesticides in our backyard.
I found a video on youtube of another person who observed the exact same behavior:
And here’s a video of my own ladybug the moment I found it:
This behavior is beyond my comprehension! It seems so purposeless and suicidal of it to behave like that…
Signature: Humberto

Ladybird Beetle

Ladybird Beetle

Dear Humberto,
We don’t know the answer to your question, but we will post your submission, feature it on our web page, and hope that someone writes in who can provide some information.  We pondered the possibility of some sort of parasite, and though we discovered there is a Wasp that parasitizes a Lady Beetle, turning it into a “zombie bodyguard”, the walking in circles behavior is not mentioned.  See Science Daily for an account of the wasp parasitization.

Update:  March 16, 2014
Thank you so much for your kind response, Mr. Marlos! Here’s an update: The ladybug escaped a few days ago, but was recaptured about 12 hours later. I have recently discovered aphids in our rose plants, and brought a good few into the ladybug’s enclosure, where it has been feasting on them. It is still going in circles though. The first 4 days, the circles it was making were fairly uniform, but now they sometimes distend into straight segments. I have learned a lot about ladybugs just by observing this one. If she stops running in circles before her normal lifespan is over, I will be sure to let you know. I read the article you linked, which was fascinating, but I’m afraid I don’t know how to tell if this ladybug has ever been parasitized.
Thank you! I’m glad to hear I’ve reported on something that was unheard of (I wouldn’t want to send any trivial questions!).

Thanks for the update Humberto.  We look forward to any additional observations you might have.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico

7 Responses to Why is the Ladybird Beetle walking in circles???

  1. J says:

    I found a ladybug acting the same way on the floor in our house. It is overwintering in our home – must have crawled in through a crack somewhere. All it does is walk around in circles – it can only turn left. No missing limbs or antennae from what I can tell.

    I wonder if it is because of a neurological disorder, maybe something genetic or perhaps it was damaged somehow by cold or dehydration.

    • H says:

      I found one myself this afternoon. It was on my counter and, like J said, it only turns left. Mine seems to have an injured leg on its left side. The very back one to be exact. I found him/her on its back so I turned it over. I did so as carfeully as I possibly could, so I dont think I was the reason for the injury. I dont know if that has anything to do with the circles, but I thought i’d let you guys know what I have experienced.

  2. crack says:

    I found an earwig doing that on the walk out back.
    Two days it walked in circles till it got “moved”by traffic.

  3. Cj says:

    Hi my brother found a lady bug in third pperiod today, We have done a lot of research on lady bugs, our ladybug is acting the same way. We named it Theda, as far as I am aware it has just been born recently it’s about 3 days old. we have made it a grassy home on paper with rock twigs and its food farm we givew it water twice a day, we do’nt give it access to water because Theada will drown it’s normal behavior.

  4. Douglas Dodds says:

    We’ve just observed a ladybird doing exactly the same in our bathroom in southern England. It did seem to have some fine fluff on its leg and antennae – from a spiders web, perhaps? We managed to remove the web but it didn’t have any effect. It always turns left, and is still doing it now!

  5. Shauna Parsons says:

    I have stink bugs in my house. Some of them when landing on round objects like my clock or light fixture just keep walking around it. They are able to fly so I don’t understand why they would keep up this insanity. The one on my clock did it for days. This is bazaar.

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