This is a beautiful gift for the nature lover.
The more I discover and learn about all forms of life, the more connected I feel to the world, and the more precious I view all life. There's so much wonder in the world when we make time to explore and notice.
Playing dead is a defense mechanism used by ladybugs. From http://www.ladybuglady.com: "By pulling their legs up "turtle-style", and typically release a small amount of blood from their legs. (This is called reflex bleeding.) The bad smell and the apparent look of death usually deter predators from their small ladybug snack. After the threat of danger has passed, the ladybug will resume its normal activities."
An entomologist can use the spots as a guide in determining what kind of ladybug it is, but it is not the only piece of information gathered. For an average person the spots can greatly help, but the shape and coloration are going to be just as important. Some different types of ladybugs may have the same number of spots. source: http://www.ladybuglady.com
Ladybugs, or as they are called in Europe, Ladybird beetles, have a 2 to 3 year lifespan, and spend most of their day consuming aphids. Aphids are tiny bugs that feed on sap from plants. Aphids come in many colors. Some may be green, yellow, brown, red or black depending on the species and the plants upon which they feed.
"Their distinctive spots and attractive colors are meant to make them unappealing to predators. Ladybugs can secrete a fluid from joints in their legs which gives them a foul taste. Their coloring is likely a reminder to any animals that have tried to eat their kind before: "I taste awful." A threatened ladybug may both play dead and secrete the unappetizing substance to protect itself." source: National Geographic
After hatching, the larva immediately start killing and eating aphids. A single ladybug consumes about 5,000 aphids in his or her lifetime: 400 aphids are consumed, just in the larva stage. Two to three weeks later, the larva pupates on a leaf, and transforms to an adult. Then as an adult, consumes another 4600 aphids in their lifetime."
I've written about my passion for photography before. It's an amazing experience to love how you spend your time. When I study life from behind my camera lens, I get transported into a new, and incredibly fascinating world. I start to see the blades of grass and leaves differently; more from the view of my main character, whomever that happens to be on a given day. Yesterday, my star characters were several ladybugs.
Doing macro photography is probably similar to exploring life beneath a microscope, only it doesn't go nearly as deep as that. Nonetheless, it's an extraordinary world to observe, and from the time I'm focusing my lens until I leave, I feel a part of something special. I get to experience a part of life often revealed only in books or documentaries.
Photography has many highs. There's the high of being in the field, out there camera hunting ready to capture an unexpected moment in time for eternity. Then there's the rush of focusing just so and clicking away. Following the character from one scene to the next is mesmerizing. Then there's the ride home with the camera full of potential glory. It's a rush every single time. I get home, greet my kitty, and head straight for my computer where I begin the next rush: downloading the images.
And finally, there's the sweet of all sweets when I get to see hundreds of moments in time captured by the marvel of a camera, and when the timing is perfect along with the lighting and focus and angle, I get the best rush of all - a photograph to cherish and share. I have so much yet to learn and that fuels my drive even more. I wouldn't sell my passion for a million dollars -- for any amount of money. For a 'starving artist', I'm happy getting to do what I do. This kind of passion is priceless.