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Posts Tagged ‘pupa’

We’ll have more ladybugs in our neighborhood even sooner than I expected.

My neighbor and photography mentor, Cindy Dyer, has ladybug larvae in her garden as I showed in a recent posting. Some of them have already entered the pupa stage, the final stage before adulthood. Once metamorphosis is complete, the shell splits open and a full-grown ladybug emerges. Initially, the shell is soft, but pretty rapidly the exoskeleton hardens and takes on the look that we associate with ladybugs.

Here’s a photo from today of a ladybug pupa. I think that it is probably from a Harlequin Ladybug (Harmonia axyridis), a type that is also known as the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle. If you want to know more about the life cycle of a ladybug, check out the posting that I did last fall entitled Baby Ladybugs.

larva2_web

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last weekend, I took some shots of Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridia) in the larval and pupal stage and discussed the phases of ladybug development in a post called Baby Ladybugs. Yesterday, I returned  to see if I could find any fully developed ladybugs that had been in pupae the last time I encountered them. (Yes, I realize I would not be able to recognize them individually, but it’s nice to imagine that we’re gradually getting to know each other.)

So, what happened? I left the shoot thinking that I had not seen any adult ladybugs, but when I looked at some of the photos on my computer of different pupae, I was uncertain. Right outside of an empty pupa shell in one of the photos is something that looks like an adult ladybug, if I squint my eyes, tilt my head, and use a little imagination. What do you think?

Newly emerged ladybug?

If you haven’t been following this story, let me catch you up with a couple of photos. (I feel like I’m doing an intro for a new television series, Lifestyles of the Ladybug.Ladybugs start out as eggs and them become larvae. As they grow, they molt several times and each time they develop a new exoskeleton. Yesterday, I saw quite a few discarded skins that, at first glance, looked a lot like the larvae themselves. Here is what a ladybug larva looks like in a later phase of development. (I took some new shots of the larvae and pupae yesterday.) They are not as cute in this stage as they will become as adult ladybugs.

Ladybug larva

Once they are fully grown, the larvae enter into a pupal stage, somewhat akin to the cocoons into which caterpillars develop into butterflies. The pupae look a little bit like ladybugs themselves and are attached to leaves. While they are in this phase, the metamorphosis takes place in which they turn into ladybugs. Here is my favorite shots of a ladybug pupa.

Ladybug pupa

After about five days, a ladybug emerges from the pupa. According to ladybug-life-cycle.com, “When the metamorphosis is complete, the skin of the larvae will split open and the full grown ladybug will emerge, but it still won’t look like the ladybug that you know so well. It will look soft and pink or very pale for a couple of hours until its shell becomes hard.”

Was I really lucky enough to catch the ladybug just after it had emerged from the pupa? My response is a firm, “Maybe,” but others with more experience may be able to respond more definitively. Here is one last photo of the possible new ladybug, from a slightly different angle than the first photo, to help your deliberations.

Welcome to this world

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This evening I spotted something unusual hanging from a lavender plant in my neighbor’s garden. I like to visit her garden when I come home from work in the evening because there are always flowers and insects to photograph, many of which she photographs and features in her blog.

The strange object looked a little like a misshapen pine cone and seemed to be covered in pine needles and little twigs. It was hanging from the lavender plant, swinging in the gentle breeze.

Suddenly in front of my eyes the “pine cone” thing began to shake a little, an opening appeared in the top, and a caterpillar (I think that’s what it is) began to emerge. Fortunately I had my camera in my hand because I had been taking some shots of bees.

The caterpillar emerged only partially and then returned to the homemade structure. The opening closed shut, leaving no evidence that there was a living creature inside.

My preliminary research suggests this is a kind of bagworm, although it seems a little unusual for it to make its home on a lavender plant. Wikipedia indicates that there are many species of bagworms, including one whose pupae are collected as a protein-rich food.

I don’t know if you noticed the claws on this caterpillar in the close-up photograph, but I may now have nightmares about giant clawed caterpillars (to go along with the soul-sucking robber flies of a few days ago).

Close-up of bagworm caterpillar emerging

Stepping back to see the whole “bag”

Caterpillar has gone back inside

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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