Male ladybugs mate with dead females for hours without realizing it?


Male ladybugs can mate with dead females for hours before they realize it.


Rating: Unproven

Rating: Unproven


According to some scientific and anecdotal evidence, there have been cases of male ladybugs mating (or attempting to mate) with their deceased females for hours. However, there is no evidence that this behavior is a distinguishing feature of ladybug mating. Nor is there any evidence that ladybugs “realize” anything, let alone that a mate is dead, during mating.

Male ladybugs, also known as ladybirds or ladybirds, can mate with dead females for hours before they “realize” that something is not quite right. At least that’s what multiple to inform about several social media platforms have claimed over the yearsincluding the TikTok video below:

According to scientific and anecdotal evidence, there are known cases of male ladybirds mating with their deceased female counterparts for hours.

Although the behavior has reportedly occurred, there is no evidence that the behavior is a distinguishing feature of ladybird mating. It is unclear how common it is in the wild and among the more than 5,000 species of ladybirds worldwide. There is also no evidence that ladybirds “realize” anything, let alone that a mate is dead, during mating.

For that reason, We have rated this claim as “Unproven”.

Matthew Van Daman entomologist and beetle specialist at the California Academy of Science, told Snopes that this ladybug rumor is largely “unfounded” — that is, it appears to be based on “anecdotal observations [rather] than any real trend or consistent behavior.”

Snopes traced the rumor to an April 1, 1995, article published by New Scientist, a weekly science magazine. The article was titled: “Find the ladybug“(archived):

MALE LADYBIRDS are pretty stupid. They can mate with a dead female for up to four hours before they realise anything is wrong. And if these cold-blooded creatures are caught in the act as the sun goes down, the plummeting temperatures can render them immobile until morning. Such tales about one of the world’s most treasured insects may shock many ladybird lovers. Yet they come from an ardent admirer who should know. Michael Majerus, a naturalist at the University of Cambridge, is the founder and coordinator of the Cambridge Ladybird Survey, an extraordinary study of the activities of ladybirds in Britain.

Nowhere in the article did the author provide peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support the claim that male ladybugs can mate with dead females for hours “before realizing anything is wrong.” (According to Van Dam, the claim is “more clickbait to get people to read the article.)

The article refers to the Cambridge Ladybird Survey, founded by former Cambridge professor Mike Majeruswhose work has contributed to a larger citizen science project, the European Ladybird SurveyThis program allows anyone in Europe to register observations of ladybirds via a Apple or Google app or the project website so scientists can assess trends over time.

Snopes contacted the organization requesting access to alleged observations that support the claim that male ladybugs have mated with dead females in the wild. We will update this article if or when we receive a response.

While citizen scientists may have spent hours recording males mating with deceased females, Van Dam says there is no empirical evidence to suggest that males are “dumber than females” — or that they would regularly exhibit that behavior, given the biological effects of mating.

In the biological world, there are costs associated with mating. For example, some species belonging to a New Guinean family of marsupials collapse and die after intercourseFor female octopuses, laying a clutch of eggs will her last act is.

In brief, reproduction involves the allocation of energy and resources through courtship, mating, fertilization, egg production and laying, birth, and more.

Van Dam referenced a 2013 peer-reviewed research paper titled: “Extreme costs of mating for male two-spotted ladybirdswhich described the mating and sexual selection of male two-spotted ladybirds. Mating, the researchers found, is a costly endeavor for male two-spotted ladybirds; a single mating session can shorten a male’s life by more than half (53%) — the most of any species, at least at the time of the study.

In other words, at least in the case of two-spotted ladybirds, fruitless mating between living males and dead females would not make evolutionary sense.

In contrast, researchers say in 2023 investigated the “necrophilic behavior” in males of the Harmonia axyridis species, a ladybug native to Asia. (The US considers it an invasive species.)

The researchers found that male ladybugs preferred to mate with live females; the males occasionally attempted to mate with seven- to fourteen-day-old female carcasses.

But as the study notes, the experiment was conducted “under laboratory conditions” and such instances of males attempting to mate with carcasses “should be evaluated in a future study.”

And although researchers observed male ladybugs to attempt to mate with dead females, the study was not designed to discern whether they were able to, uh, complete their mating attempt. That completion would “confirm the extremely high physiological costs of such behavior,” the study said.


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#author.fullName}.”Find the ladybug.” New scientist Accessed June 29, 2024.

Costs of reproduction – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. Retrieved June 29, 2024.

European Ladybirds Home Page | European Ladybirds. Accessed 29 June 2024.

Harmonia Axyridis. Accessed June 29, 2024.

Ladybug | Animals and Plants at the San Diego Zoo. Retrieved June 29, 2024.

Parking, directions, and (415) 379-8000. IBSS | California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved June 29, 2024.

Perry, Jennifer C., and Crystal T. Tse. “Extreme Costs of Mating for Male Two-Spotted Ladybirds.” PLOS ONEfull. 8, no. 12, dec. 2013, p. e81934. PLoS journals

Řeřicha, Michal, et al. “Mating with dead conspecifics in an invasive ladybird is influenced by male sexual fasting and time since female death.” Limits in ecology and evolutionvol. 11, Oct. 2023. Borders

What Causes the Octopus Death Spiral? New Study Points to Changes in Cholesterol Production | University of Chicago News. May 17, 2022,

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