This ladybug, the first we've seen this year, landed on Laurie's leg, just outside of the Tim Horton's in Tsawwassen. I took her inside to see if I could identify her; I would have to count her spots and get a good look at her pronotum, the shield between the head and the wing covers. She was quite agitated, and raced around the table. Twice she flew away, only to land on the window behind me. So I brought her home in a bottle Laurie had in his pocket.
|Slow down! I can't count your spots!|
She's a Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis, an imported species. The defining characteristic is the more or less "W" shaped mark on the pronotum. These ladybugs are extremely variable,* with anywhere from no spots to 18, like this one, and in any combination of yellow, black, orange, red, and white.
At home, she came out of her bottle running, and wouldn't stop. Back in the bottle, she went into the fridge to cool off and, I hoped, go to sleep.
I've had trouble with beetles; they're tough little beasties. Often, I take one, sound asleep, out of the fridge, and before I've got the camera focused, it's awake and running again. So I put a light cloth over an ice pack, and park the beetle there. It works, sometimes.
This little lady was closed down tight, legs folded against the belly, antennae at rest. On the cold pack, she sat still. For all of 30 seconds. Then she unfolded one front leg.
Next, she started to walk. Slowly. Really s l o w l y. About 20 seconds per step.
|10 seconds. All legs extended.|
|14 more seconds. Stepping forward.|
|8 more seconds. Front leg moves back. Middle leg moves forward.|
Each little leg moves in its turn; first, middle, last. And the sides alternate; left front, right front, left middle, etc. An interesting, rather complicated gait. (Compare it to the gait of horses, tigers, cats, us, centipedes.)
Because it allows for rapid yet stable movement, many insects adopt a tripedal gait in which they walk with their legs touching the ground in alternating triangles. Wikipedia.I think that's what the ladybug is doing. Front-left, rear-left, middle-right, all down at the same time, then the other three.
And so it went, for about a minute; barely one complete round. Then her motors revved up, and she went back to running mode. Now, she's chasing around in her bottle on my desk, waiting for the sunrise, when I'll put her out in the garden.
*For other variants, see BugGuide, and this post.