Ladybugs mate with a lot, and their copulation takes hours. So, do ladybugs have STDs, like humans? Let’s find out.
Many people consider spotting a ladybug with its bright colors and black spots in your garden a sign of good luck. Only a few people know that these insects might carry dangerous STDs!
While diseases like Syphilis and AIDS have increased the awareness of STDs among humans, there has been very little study on these diseases among bugs.
Ladybugs are a very promiscuous species, they mate with several partners, and their sex lasts for hours. It is only natural that STDs are rampant among them.
But the big question is: can they transfer these illnesses to humans? Continue reading to know the answers.
Ladybugs Love “Doing It”
Ladybugs do not bond for life, unlike popular imagination. Both male and female ladybugs, in fact, look for as many partners as possible during mating season.
It makes sense, too – having sex many times increases the chances of laying more eggs and thus continuing the cycle of life.
But what you might not know is that ladybugs spend upto one or two hours for mating (it increases the chances of insemination).
Scientists have long hypothesized that this long mating process is one of the reasons why STDs spread so easily in these beetles.
Two such STDs are a mite that impacts spotted ladybugs and Laboulbeniales Fungal Disease. We will discuss more about them in the sections to follow.
Sexually Transmitted Mites in Two Spotted Ladybugs
A team of experts from the University of Western Australia was studying the mating activities of spotted ladybugs.
Their first observation was that each ladybug was mating once every two days.
Moreover, they found a sexually transmitted mite that was spreading through their population very rapidly. In fact, the infection rate spiked from 20% to 80% within just a couple of weeks.
The conclusion was inescapable: the beetles’ extreme promiscuity was allowing an unusually rapid spread of STDs through the entire population.
How Did The Ladybug Population Survive the STD?
The research concluded that even though the mite was affecting many ladybugs, it wasn’t killing them off. This was pretty extraordinary, considering how rapid the transmission was.
What they found was that a new generation of ladybugs was born just before the disease spiked. This provided more fertile female bugs to replace the dying ones.
The unique system was in balance, with the STD spreading just slow enough to let a new batch of females be born.
Unfortunately, such rare balances in nature are getting disturbed due to climate change and can impact ladybug populations in several countries.
Laboulbeniales Fungal Disease in Ladybugs
Multicolored Asian bugs (Harmonia axyridis) are sometimes seen carrying a kind of fuzz on their bodies. This is not some kind of dress-up trick – it is the result of the Laboulbeniales fungus.
Laboulbeniales, a fungal disease found in arthropods, is an insect STD that lives on the exoskeletons of hard-bodied creatures like beetles and bugs and feeds off internal fluids.
The sexually transmitted form of fungi only spreads from skin to skin.
As we mentioned earlier, ladybugs love to have sex for hours on end and have multiple sexual partners. This makes it easy for the fungus to spread through contact during mating.
One of the most intriguing forms of the fungus consists of a finger-like structure that it uses for attaching to the exoskeleton of the ladybug.
It uses this mouthpart to suck the hemolymph of the insects.
Thankfully while Laboulbeniales can spread quickly, it does not kill the ladybugs – it only makes them sterile.
Can This STD Be Transferred to Humans?
Thankfully, while tha Asian lady beetles can bite humans and cause allergic reactions in some, their STDs cannot be transferred to human beings.
The Laboulbeniales fungal disease can only infect hard-bodied arthropods, such as beetles, spiders, wasps, and cockroaches.
Even so, experts recommend people seal their doors and windows to stop the entry of invasive ladybird species.
The reason is that some non native species, such as black ladybirds, are poisonous.
Moreover, even the yellow Asian Lady beetles can be a nuisance in homes. They can leave a foul-smelling liquid on your furniture and even cause allergic reactions.
In a 2018 incident, a swarm of infected harlequin ladybirds invaded homes across the UK.
However, no harm was caused to humans apart from nuisance, confirming that STDS cannot be transferred to humans from ladybugs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What disease do ladybugs carry?
Ladybugs may carry sexually transmitted diseases such as mites and the Laboulbeniales Fungal Disease. They can transfer these to others of their species via mating.
They are, however, not dangerous to human beings since the disease can only be transferred to arthropods, such as insects and bugs.
Do black ladybugs carry STDs?
Yes, black ladybugs also carry STDs. In fact, they can also be victims of the fungi called Laboulbeniales.
It shows up in the form of finger-like yellow structures on the skin of the bugs and lives on their exoskeletons.
Are there STDs in the animal kingdom?
Many animals, including cats and dogs, are vulnerable to STDs. While their study has usually been restricted to humans, STDs can basically spread in any kind of creature.
In fact, a vaccine developed recently for Koalas to fight chlamydia is also showing a bit of promise for human trials.
Do bees get STDs?
Bees have multiple mating partners. They can mate with more than 100 male partners within a few hours, which leaves them vulnerable to STDs.
One of the examples is the Nosema spores. Two variants of these microspores can spread among bees through the queen bee to the workers.
Ladybugs can get STDs, mostly because they are mating so much and for so long that it is easy for these diseases to spread among them.
Thankfully, so far, no lethal STD has been detected among these beetles, and even the STD mite that we talked about earlier is maintaining its balance with the local population.
Lastly, humans have nothing to be worried about since none of these diseases can be passed on to us by their bite or touch.
We hope we answered all your queries. Thank you for reading!