Sunday, May 5, 2019

A tethered Ladybug, a parasitic wasp and a virus

Hippodamia convergens tethered above pupae of parasitic wasp Dinocampus coccinellae
I found this below Snow Bowl in Flagstaff, Arizona: Ladybugs, seemingly alive but immobile above a little cocoon, as if guarding it.
The explanation:
Dinocampus coccinellae (braconid wasp) stings ladybug and oviposits. The wasp also transfers virus D. coccinellae paralysis virus (DcPV for short). The virus multiplies in the developing wasp larva and eventually infects the Ladybugs nervous system. At the time the wasp hatches and pupates, the virus immobilizes the ladybug. The brightly aposematic and toxic beetle now stands guard over the silk cocoon that its  former unwelcome guest has spun beneath it, basically providing protection for the pupa. The beetle is still able to move, but not walk away. The DcP virus may actually enhance their deterrent effect by making the beetle  twitch.
Some beetles seemed to recover later to be able to move around, but how far the recovery goes is unknown.

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