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Larvae turn ladybugs into Zombies

Mar 12, 2013

Scientists at the University of Montreal have discovered a type of larva that turns ladybird beetles into the living dead of sorts, using them for food and shelter in the process. 

The larvae of the Dinocampus coccineilae parasitic wasp colonize and consume the ladybugs while they are still alive, the scientists observed. The larva is laid as an egg in the soft interior ofthe ladybug, where it can grow without beng disturbed by its natural predators. After some 20 days, the larva breaks out ofthe ladybug's body and spins a cocoonbetween the beet|e's legs.This nearly paralyzes the ladybug so that it can barely move and has no choice but to protect the pupa—stage wasp with its body.
The larva continues to feed on the ladybug, and it is able to survive the feeding. The larva benefits from its host's life up to the very last minute:The living ladybug occasionally jerks, which is likely enough movement to keep the |arva’s enemies at bay. When the larva is ready to leave the pupa, it releases its host, which — to the scientists‘ surprise — sometimes has sufficient energy to resume its pre-occupation life; this phenomenon was observed in 25 percent of cases.
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