Feature Journal

The Beauty of Ladybird Mimicry

10 June 2011
An exploratory night trip down the abandoned railway track off sunset way led to some interesting discoveries. The most notable was what seemed like a ladybird… with 8 legs!

Ladybird (or ladybug) mimicry has been one of the most successful, to humans at least. Many were duped into thinking that these bugs were ladybirds at first glance. This is because of the popularity of the ladybird image in the human world – not many bugs are as well known to sport a red round body with black spots.

Though not confirmed for ladybugs, spiders and other bug predators adopt this beautiful camouflage to allow them to get close to their potential prey. Some may do it for defense (for ants) and some for predation. See my earlier post on World of Ant Mimicry.

One of the more likely reasons to mimic a ladybird, is that ladybirds tend to be unpalatable. Predators who had had a bad experience with them before would relate it to the bright colours and spots, and avoid such patterns in the future. A point scored there for ladybird mimics!

    Ladybird Mimic Spider (Paraplectana sp.) - DSC_8884
  1. Ladybird mimic spider (Paraplectana sp.)
    Initial sighting. Looks just like a ladybird, doesn’t it?

  2. Ladybird Mimic Spider (Paraplectana sp.) - DSC_8866
  3. Ladybird mimic spider (Paraplectana sp.)
    Some said this looks like a strawberry, but this Ladybird Mimic Spider (Paraplectana sp.) does its mimicking job well! There are other similar species of this spider, some are yellow, which mimics the yellow ladybird.

  4. Ladybird Mimic Spider (Paraplectana sp.) - DSC_8843
  5. Ladybird mimic spider (Paraplectana sp.)
    Frontal view of the beauty. It has the same shape as the common bird dung spider, but looks so different. Some had also commented that this reminded them of the Super Mario Mushroom… lol

  6. Ladybird-Mimic Beetle - DSC_8011
  7. Handsome fungus beetle (Stenotarsus pardalis)
    Another Ladybird Mimic Beetle, you won’t find that much pubescence (hair) on an actual ladybird.

  8. Ladybird (Coccinellidae) - DSC_4860
  9. Ladybird beetle (Epilachna sp.)
    An actual ladybird, though not of the typical red-black colour combination

  10. Ladybird Mimic Beetle (Coleoptera) - DSC_2276
  11. Handsome fungus beetle (Stenotarsus pardalis)
    Another ladybird mimic beetle, extremely hairy!

  12. Ladybird Mimic Beetle (Coleoptera) - DSC_2277
  13. Handsome fungus beetle (Stenotarsus pardalis)
    Peering over

  14. Ladybird (Coccinellidae) - DSC_7521
  15. Ladybird beetle (Coelophora cf. inaequalis)
    Yet another ladybird playing hide and seek with an ant – not very successful there. I can’t seem to find the original red-black ladybirds!

  16. The rest of the trip had some interesting finds too, most notably the Water Scorpion!.

    Water Scorpion (Nepidae) - DSC_8892
  17. Water Scorpion (Nepidae)
    Found it motionless in a little stream. The water scorpion is not really a scorpion, but a true bug that looks like a scorpion. The anterior legs resemble the claws of an actual scorpion, while the tail is not used as a venomous sting, but a breathing device (imagine a snorkel) when under water. It has 2 pairs of wings too, imagine it flying!

  18. Water Scorpion (Nepidae) - DSC_8901
  19. Water Scorpion (Nepidae)
    Closer look at its body

  20. Water Scorpion (Nepidae) - DSC_8902
  21. Water Scorpion (Nepidae)
    Closeup of its eyes. It does have compound eyes!

  22. I had spent the previous 2 weeks on ogre hunts. James found yet another ogre on this trip!

    Net-Casting Spider (Deinopidae) - DSC_8818
  23. Ogre Face Spider or Net-Casting Spider (Deinopis sp.)
    This is the top view, as it was dangling deep in the tall grass. As expected, it was facing a leaf, patiently waiting for prey. As we trudged on the grass and disrupted it accidentally, it discarded the net and went into camouflage mode, straightening its legs.

  24. Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae) - DSC_8928
  25. Comb-footed spider Rhomphaea sp.
    Found this carrying a distinctive egg sac.

  26. House Centipede (Scutigeridae) - DSC_8957
  27. House centipede (Scutigeridae)
    Face to face with a House Centipede. Really wouldn’t want to find this in my house! This fella was facing up, and allowed us to take a decent shot of its face.

  28. House Centipede (Scutigeridae) - DSC_8937
  29. House centipede (Scutigeridae)
    Just a silly attempt to make a 3D animation.

  30. Dragonfly (Anisoptera) - DSC_8971
  31. Dragonfly (Anisoptera)
    A large dragonfly spotted by James. Not sure of ID, could be rare?

  32. Dragonfly (Anisoptera) - DSC_8975
  33. Dragonfly (Anisoptera)
    A slightly different angle

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  1. Reply

    Daddy Bear

    14 June 2011

    Great documentation. I learn something on your blog with each post! Thanks for sharing, Nicky! So when we go hunt Shrek, huh?

  2. Reply

    Anthony Quek

    15 June 2011

    Very informative and nice photos to go along, Nicky!

    Regarding the Dragonfly ID, it looks like a female Gynacantha basiguttata to me, a rare species in Singapore. Congrats!



Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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