16 October 2007
Then last Monday, we were collecting invertebrates to give the classroom support staff on our project some experience with the curricular activities. Underneath one of the maple trees, I found a veritable treasure trove of ladybird beetle (aka ladybug) larvae, feasting on an abundance of aphids. Harkening back to my tadpole experience of the spring, I decided to collect some and watch them go through their metamorphosis. I also took some in to Z-boy’s class, because their science and social study units both currently focus on life stages.
This photo shows three of the life stages together (more photos at Flickr). The black and orange thing at the top (and the thing disappearing under the edge of the leaf) is a larva (like the caterpillar stage in a butterfly). Right in the middle of the photo is a pupa (similar to cocoon/chrysalis). The bottom right is an adult ladybird beetle. I’m not sure exactly when the adults emerged, because I didn’t check much over the weekend, but obviously it was before today! These are all the multi-colored Asian lady beetle species (scientific name: Harmonia axyridis).
I went to get more aphids to feed the larva yesterday, and found two more larvae of different sizes. I’m going to try to keep better track of when they hit the different stages.
Even though I know they’re not “dead” or anything, I’ve always assumed that pupae would stay still. So imagine my surprise when I saw them doing “pushups” – raising up the end that is not attached to the leaf. (Maybe headstand would be a more appropriate term?) Sometimes the end stays raised for minutes at a time, sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes in happens multiple times in fast succession. I have no idea what this is, and my brief web search is not revealing any scientific explanation. The largest of the larvae has stopped moving and started doing this same hind end lifting thing – maybe it’s about to pupate? Hmmm, maybe I should get out the video camera…