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.
REUTERS/Montana State University/Handout
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.
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.