Sunday, August 17, 2008


It all started with the tulip trees.

It was a hot day, with the sun blasting down from a cloudless sky, so we were walking on the shady side of the street. On the grass under the trees.

Under the tulip trees, the grass was covered with leaves. And the leaves were covered top and bottom with a sticky liquid. They stuck to our shoes; they stuck to my fingers when I picked them up.

And every sticky surface was covered with aphids and small flies.

Section of the underside of a leaf.

On one of the fallen leaves, I found a ladybug pupa. I carried it home, leaf and all. (Some of the aphids left the leaf and crawled up my arm. They tickled.)

Asian Multicoloured Ladybug Beetle pupa. With aphid.

A ladybug larva was crawling on a fence post where I stopped to change the battery in my camera. I popped it in the empty battery bag and brought it home, too.

Hallowe'en colours.

I photographed both my catches quickly, then put the sticky leaf with the pupa outside. The larva worried me, though; it was hunching itself up in an odd position; I thought the heat from the lamp was bothering it, and set it aside to rest in a pill bottle with a damp rose leaf and an aphid or two for food.

I found out later, from BugGuide, that this is the normal pre-pupating posture. And sure enough, this morning, the rose leaf held a bright orange pupa where the larva had been.

If I had known, I would have watched it all night, if need be. Next time.

Funny how the colours morph; where the larva had orange, the pupa is black. Where the larva was black the pupa is orange.

This pupa was quite different than the previous one; smaller markings, a paler orange. This afternoon Laurie and I were comparing them; the time was just before 3:00 P.M.

I looked at them again at 5:30, and this is what I saw on the tulip leaf:

Now there's a pale, lemon-yellow dome, still wet-looking and almost transparent, on the side of the pupa casing. The adult ladybug is out!

Click on this to see it full size: you can see the split where the ladybug emerged. I don't know how it got that big dome out the small crack. The adult is not entirely free, yet; the pupa is still twitching, faintly, at the top where the split is. I can't see a head.

The elytra (the wing covers) look like a regulation hard hat. Or from the side, like a semi-transparent half-grapefruit.

Nothing much happened for ten minutes. Occasionally, a leg unfolded, then tucked itself away again. But then, the "hard hat" shifted sideways, and two wide eyes stared out at me.

More resting, with occasional small changes in position. Another 15 minutes went by. The movement in the pupa stopped. Then, the ladybug drew itself up to full height, away from the pupa, ...

... and marched down the leaf and away. 6:00 P.M.

Wow! What a big world!

It has the usual markings of an Asian Multicoloured: the W, however sketchy, on the pronotum. But I'd never seen a yellow one before, much less a yellow ladybug with no spots. Very pretty.

The pupal casing remained, standing straight up on the leaf. It is there now, although it is wrinkly and black by this time.

And the second pupa (the ex-larva) is still on the rose leaf, still that light orange. I wonder; the darker, more heavily marked pupa produced this marvel of delicate lemon custard; what will the next one be like?


  1. It's just brilliant when you get to see stuff like that close up!

  2. Very interesting. The whole metamorphosis thing is so utterly amazing to me! A marvel.

  3. It's mind-boggling, actually.

    What can it possibly be like to have your entire body recycled, and come out the other end still functional, but with a different aim in life?

    Do adult ladybugs remember what they learned as larvae?

  4. What else can someone say... WOW.


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