Draw a Line on Paper and Ladybugs Will Follow It Perfectly

Humans have a real love-hate relationship with insects: Their stings can make us feel some of the worst pain imaginable, and they can turn cities into ghost towns if enough of them get together. Then again, they can be our best friends if you help them in their hour of need, and we’ve been able to turn dragonflies into genetically modified cyborg drones that we can control. It turns out we can control ladybugs too, and all it takes is a pen (via BoingBoing).

In the video, the ladybug is very intent on following the line the pen is drawing on the paper, showing much determination in its pursuit. It turns out this wasn’t just a one-off thing, since ladybugs have been observed following lines in this way on multiple occasions:

So why do they do this? It would seem they do it for reasons similar to why the same behavior has been observed in other insects like termites, as mom.me notes:

“The key to this behavior lies in the method termites use to communicate with one another. When one termite finds something worth investigating, it lays down a pheromone trail that the other termites can smell and follow with unerring accuracy. This pheromone is chemically similar to a number of different household chemicals, and many types of ballpoint ink mimic its characteristics well enough to fool the insects. Not every type of ink will work; but if you find one with the right chemical odor, you can send termites on a wild-goose chase or make them run around in circles.”

Have you ever done this with a ladybug (or any other sort of insect) yourself? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Featured image: Benjamin Watson/Flickr

Gettin’ buggy with it!

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