Zombie Ladybugs

Well zombies are without a doubt in and particularly in the Fall time in Knoxville. My hometown does a zombie outbreak, where crowds of people pretend to be like zombies and wonder about the town. Including The Walking Dead television series, where everybody is waiting to watch who Negan, Lucille’s. Is it Glen, Daryl, Abraham or is it someone else? Please forgive me I got off topic. Speaking of zombies, our little planet has zombie ants and zombie bees and now we can include zombie ladybugs to this list.

Here is a neat fact. Did you know that a single prick from a parasitic wasp, Dinocampus coccinellae, will transform the ladybug into a zombie captive? Almost everyone thinks the disease it implants is meant to kill, but in ladybugs it changes the bug into a mindless babysitter.

The parasitic wasp will sting the ladybug and plant its eggs within the creature. The incubating ladybug has no indication its been infected and goes about carrying out its day to day job. The larva will begin to evolve inside the ladybug eating on its internal organs and three weeks later will erupt out of the ladybug’s belly and form a cocoon. Now you are probably thinking the ladybug is no longer alive at this point, you are incorrect. The ladybug is breathing and the sickness it has been injected with is now affecting the brain of the host and immobilizing it.

The ladybug starts to helplessly have spasms and now the complete zombie metamorphosis has begun (minus the brain bitingthing). The now zombified ladybug in essence becomes the guardian, and defends the wasp eggs, observant over the offspring and fighting off any predators that may come their way. Within days, a mature wasp will emerge and repeat this course.

Surprisingly, about 25 percent of these zombified ladybugs will restore to their non-zombified selves. They will not have resistance and quite a few get stung and infected numerous times.

So there you have it. An eerie fact about ladybugs and how they are altered into zombies.