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Rare ladybug in Montana behaves like a turtle

Rare ladybug: The 'headless' ladybug is a new genus that can tuck its head in its throat. How rare is it? Only two of the bizarre-looking ladybird beetles have ever been collected, a male in Montana and a female in Idaho.

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A newly discovered ladybug tucks its head into its throat - making it not only a new species but an entirely new genus. With just two specimens ever collected, scientists say it's the rarest species in the United States.

REUTERS/Montana State University/Handout

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Sleepy Hollow has its headless horseman and now Montana has a headless ladybug.

The newly discovered insect tucks its head into its throat - making it not only a new species but an entirely new genus, or larger classification of plants and animals.

Ross Winton captured the insect in 2009 in traps he set in a sand dune while an entomology graduate student at Montana State University. Winton, now a wildlife technician in Idaho, at first thought he had parts of an ant but then discovered the bug can hide its head, much like a turtle ducking into its shell.

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Winton sent his discovery to scientists in Australia working on this group of insects and the headless ladybug was formally described in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed journal Systematic Entomology, a publication of the Royal Entomological Society.

Just two specimens of the tan, pinhead-sized ladybugs, also known as ladybird beetles, have ever been collected, a male in Montana and a female in Idaho, scientists said, making it the rarest species in the United States.

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