The joy of failure

The literature about North American Coccinellidae (lady bugs) clearly states that that the larger ???????????????????????????????ones (Coccinellinae) overwinter as adults. For whatever reason, I seem to have a knack for finding lady bug pupae during the winter. I have collected lady pupae in December (with snow on the ground) here in Idaho and had them pupate indoors. I have never collected any in January, February, or March that have yielded adults. At some point, I will stop collecting pupae and bringing them home to rear – but I haven’t reached that point yet! Call it stubborn, stupid, or a combination of the two, but I still feel compelled to try. The pupae in the photos have been indoors for three weeks, many of the pupae that were part of this cohort hard ???????????????????????????????obvious damage and were not viable, but I may try a couple a little longer…

Not everything that a biologist tries, or has hunches about, is correct. I think to myself: how is laying eggs that die before adulthood advantageous? I therefore assume that some of these pupae are viable. Based on the data I have gathered: cold weather came about 7 days too early – game over. Learning is a messy process and failure is one of the instructors.

Of course the hyper curious part of me would love to tear into the equation of time and cold that eventually equals pupal death and I would find it interesting to gather quantitative data on pupae and cold, especially in alpine and subalpine habitats where freezing temperatures can occur at any time. I can save the full inquiry until I win the lottery, until then I will probably just keep collecting pupae.


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