Friday, 13 June 2014

Ladybird Parasite

Ladybird parasitized by D. coccinellae
I found this unfortunate ladybird on the underside of a nettle leaf. I really hope its dead and not just paralysed. I think its the work of the parasitic wasp Dinocampus coccinellae, which lays a single egg inside the ladybird. This hatches after about a week. Initially it absorb nutrients directly from the ladybird. Later it feeds directly on the ladybirds fat and gonads, not it's vital organs thereby keeping the ladybird alive. It then passes through 4 larval stages, taking around 18-27 days after which it immobilises the ladybird by biting through the nerves in its legs. It then chews its way out  and spins a cocoon under the ladybird so  it is protected by the ladybirds body and warning colours from birds and other predators. After 6-9 days out hatches another female wasp who is ready to parasitize another ladybird around an hour after emergence.

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