Ladybugs have ceased being cute.
They can be cannibals, as a matter of fact. How do I know this? You could credit Google, but you’d be partially wrong. I watched it happen and then I checked Google to make sure I was seeing what I thought I saw (and no, Tweetie, it was not a puddytat). Who knew those benign little beetles were so…Hannibal Lecter?
A few weeks ago I walked into the bathroom, and there on the floor not far from the toilet was a little grouping of ladybugs. That, in and of itself, is not so unusual given the epic numbers of ladybugs we’ve had in the house the past several months. Most of the time there are groups of dead ladybugs near every window like they all died trying to scratch their way out of the house. I would have been happy to let them all out if they had asked, but then they would have frozen anyway. Sometimes there are enough ladybug carcasses to make me wonder if they all died in a cult suicide pact only the little kool-aid cups are too small to be seen. We have a lot of dead ladybugs around the house is what I’m saying. Enough that I have to make a daily habit of cleaning them up or it looks like the outdoors came indoors to die.
Back to the little trio in the bathroom… They weren’t doing lines of coke (or dust, or dog hair given the contents of my bathroom floor which much to my chagrin—in the name of science—you will see. It wasn’t cleaning day, sadly.). I did think, perhaps, I was witnessing something from a Discovery Channel show on ménage à trois in the animal kingdom. Naturally, (and being more pervy than I thought I was) I got down for a closer look. (I figure one of the other ladybugs down there was watching, so what was one more set of eyes?) It took me a little while of watching to figure out that one of the ladybugs was, in fact, dead. It was only slightly mushed and I finally saw a trail of ladybug innards that was keeping the bug stuck to the floor as the ladybug underneath it was gnawing on its exoskeleton. Of course I had to take pictures. And maybe a movie or 4…
I haven’t figured out what the third ladybug was doing beyond working security. It did take a nibble at one point, but really was just standing around while the other ladybug noshed on the all-you-can-eat friend bugfet.
Here’s the best of the videos I took to show the one ladybug moving the dead one around. It’s a little shaky because I was using my regular camera and not a video camera. Still, it’s interesting to see them going at it, so to speak. (If the video doesn’t show below, click the link and it will take you to the YouTube page where it is posted and you can watch it there.)
Once I had my theory, I had to Google it to see if I was right. After all, everything on the internet is true, right? I did find a site to confirm that when food supplies (normally aphids) are low, ladybugs will cannibalize each other. Icky, yet true. And, now, I’ve posted proof to the world on YouTube. I feel so…hip.
I had R come in to see it since she could share with her class (along with a newly shed snakeskin I found in the barn last week) about what she saw, plus she’s not terribly squeamish. I would have invited Monkey, but then he would have squished them all and the educational value would have disappeared in an instant even if the entertainment value would have increased exponentially. Still, it was interesting to learn something new about my roommates and we are not lacking for nature here in the Great White North if you want a lesson in life. For as uncertain as life can be, it is always a fascinating education to watch the natural world adapt around and in spite of us. Aside from the cannibalism, nature often inspires me want to work harder at adapting and adjusting to my own ups and downs better—to remember to work with what I have better and just keep going. Nature may not always be pretty or neat (or even socially acceptable), but since when was real life any of those things?