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Rare ladybug acts like a turtle, hides head in own throat


Fossils show giant turtles the size of cars that snacked on crocodiles.


Artwork by Liz Bradford

Need suggestions for a last-minute Halloween costume? How about the headless turtle ladybug?

When Ross Winton was still a grad student at Montana State University, he decided to set up a bug trap in a southwest Montana dune. And it ended up trapping a rather odd-looking bug: it appeared to have no head, LiveScience reported. Winston later realized that his catch was actually a rare ladybug that can hide its head inside a tube down its throat, like a turtle.

The species is so rare in fact that is "known from only two individuals, one male and one female, making it qualify for the rarest species in the USA," Michael Ivie, an MSU entomologist and Winton's former adviser, told Montana State University News Service. "The species is very unusual not only because of its small size, unique habitat and rarity, but the fact that its head is pulled back into a tube in its thorax makes its biology quite a mystery."

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Winton captured the insect back in 2009, when he was still working on his advanced degree in entomology. He now works as a wildlife technician in Idaho, and his paper on the headless ladybug has been published in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed journal Systematic Entomology, Reuters reported. While it's cool that the ladybug likes to behave like a turtle and can slip its head down its throat, it's still unclear why, exactly, the ladybug chooses to do that. "It's a whole new kind of ladybug. Whatever this does, it is very specialized. It's quite the exciting little beast," Ivie said.