Ladybirds: wolves of the undergrowth

Why are there so many types of ladybirds? The tremendous diversity of ladybird beetle species is linked to their ability to produce larvae which, with impunity, poach members of “herds” of tiny, soft-bodied scale insects from under the noses of the aggressive ants that tend them.

To avoid being killed as they poach the ant’s scales, ladybird larvae evolved to produce two anti-ant defences: an impregnable woolly coat of wax filaments, and glands which produce defensive chemicals. Most of the ladybird family’s 6,000 species are found in lineages with one or both of these defences.

Read more at CSIRO