Posted by ampontan on Friday, August 31, 2012
FARMERS love ladybugs because they’re the natural predators of aphids, scales, mites, moth larvae, and other natural predators of their crops. That’s why they love to have ladybugs make a habit of hanging out at the farm. But the problem is one of unrequited love — the farmers can’t make them stay once they get there. They have wings and fly away, even when they’re released in a greenhouse. Ladybugs just got to be free.
Seko Tomokazu and his team at the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization in Fukuyama, Hiroshima, got to work on a way to neuter that flightiness. The team used measuring instruments to find and isolate the ladybugs that had trouble flying. They got them to mix and mingle, and finally succeeded in producing a landlubber strain that doesn’t fly at all. It just walks. Put one on a stick, and it strolls to the end and back down again without taking off. In other words, the scientists turned an inherited drawback for coccinellidae into an advantage.
Ladybugs can produce up to seven generations in a year, and it took from 20-35 generations to breed a master race of flightless aphid eaters. After all that effort, their next step was obvious. They registered it with the Agriculture Ministry as a biological control agent. Time to make some money off those bugs!
Here’s a Youtube that’s a slice of life its own self. Watch as a ladybug wolfs down an aphid. Who knew they were so ruthless?