The sad thing about Ladybugs is that the very thing that protects them from predators also makes them a target for a certain wasp. Talk about having a target painted on your back...! Here from Listverse is the scoop!
Parasite: Dinocampus coccinellae
Ladybugs (or ladybirds outside the US) are distinctive for their bright red shells and black spots. As you might know, the bright colors are a defense mechanism, letting predators know that it’s probably poisonous, or at least not very tasty. And that’s exactly why dinocampus coccinellae wasps choose ladybugs to guard their young.
When an adult wasp finds a suitable ladybug, it will land, bend its stinger underneath the beetle, and implant a single egg in the ladybug’s belly. After about five days, the wasp larva will hatch and eat any ladybug larvae that might already be inside the host. Then, it will hook into the ladybug like a life support system, absorbing nutrients directly from its body (the ladybug is still moving around and eating at this point).
The wasp larva will live like this for up to a month, but after enough time has passed it slices the nerves that go to the ladybug’s legs, paralyzing it, then digs out through its belly and builds a cocoon between the ladybug’s legs. But it doesn’t kill the ladybug, not yet, because it still needs protection. So it manipulates the ladybug into sitting still, but moving and twitching slightly—just enough to let predators know it’s still alive. After 6-9 days, the fully grown wasp emerges. If the ladybug managed to stay alive for the almost 40 days it was under the control of the wasp, it’s free to go on its way.
I don't know about you, but I have a whole new respect for Ladybugs after reading this! I mean...who knew?
Coffee out on the patio this morning. Let's watch for Ladybugs!