SEVEN SPOTTED LADYBIRD (Coccinella septempunctata) guarding a Parasitic BRACONID WASP cocoon (Dinocampus coccinellae)
This is amazing! This Brancoid wasp, Dinocampus coccinellae, is a body-snatcher, or perhaps a “bodyguard-snatcher”. She hunts for a seven-spotted ladybird. When she finds one, she stings it and lays an egg inside its body, then leaves. Her grub hatches inside the ladybug and starts eating the ladybird alive. Around three weeks later, the grub burrows out of its host.
A lot of parasitic wasps sting insects and leave their offspring to feed to adulthood on their host, but the Dinocampus coccinellae takes the process one step further.
The grub emerges from the still partially paralyzed ladybird and spins a silken cocoon between the ladybird’s legs (shown above). Since the ladybird can’t move, it remains in place and unwittingly protects the cocoon (for a week or so), as it transforms into an adult.
The ladybirds warning colors, of red and black, help to deter would-be predators, and it twitches erratically if threats draw near.
The drama ends when the adult wasp emerges from the cocoon and flies away leaving its host to die of starvation—or not.
That’s right, even though the ladybird has been stung and partially paralyzed, had a wasp grub had eat many of its internal organs — then forcibly pushed its way out of its body. Then stood guard for a week or more without any food. Even then, a quarter of the ladybugs survive.
Fact Source: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com
Other photos you may enjoy:
Lacewing Larvae - canny camouflage and Australian Lacewing Larvae
Seven Spotted Ladybug Cluster
Another parasitic wasp - Emerald Cockroach Wasp