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Can ladybugs “see” electricity?

August 19, 2014


We know birds do it, bee do it and apparently even educated fleas do it — I’m wondering if ladybugs can also do it — if they can see or sense electricity or rather, electromagnetic radiation.

I only ask because for over an hour I’ve had a ladybug wandering over the expanse of my laptop — in a seemingly discernible pattern.

Just this moment it appears to be napping on the screen frame beside the blue Dashboard icon on WordPress’s “Add New Post” screen.

First I noticed it though, the little ladybug was running back and forth along the insulated wire of the AC adapter.

This ladybug really got a charge out of my laptop


Parked atop my cellular Wi-Fi stick. Maybe it’s piggybacking my Internet connection?

Eventually it made a beeline ladybug-line for my cellular Wi-Fi stick and patrolled the topmost part of the stick for a good while.

Then, after dashing the length and breadth of the Altec Lansing speaker grill strip the ladybug finally crossed its Rubicon — one of the laptop screen hinges.

It much preferred to stay off the screen itself and ran around and around the edge of the screen on the black frame — slowing down, speeding up, changing directions.

The ladybug could have easily gotten off the laptop if it had wanted to. Twice it ended up on the counter top and both times it got back up on the laptop.


It clearly seemed to prefer the three (or four) most electromagnetically active parts of the laptop: the AC adapter cord, the cellular Wi-Fi stick and the frame around the screen of the laptop — where the antenna for the Wi-Fi is wound.

Now that I think of it, the long speaker grill it spent a lot of time on is right over top of the long rechargeable battery.

Has this ladybug seen the light?

Science has know for some time that some or all birds can see ultraviolet light — among other things, it enhances their ability to mate and hunt. And this year research showed for the first time that many mammals can also see UV light, including dogs, cats, ferrets, and reindeer.

For these birds and mammals, seeing UV light means they see electrical devices in a way humans can’t — as things that glow and pop with bright flashes of light called corona discharges.

At the weak point in the insulation or shielding of electrical wires the electron flow in the wire can cause the air around the weak shielding to ionize as a glowing plasma, which is visible as a burst of ultraviolet light.

For birds and mammals that can see UV light, high-voltage power lines, for instance, are daunting spectacles of sparking and flaring UV light.

And apparently all insects can see ultraviolet light and more.

Research in 2013 showed that bumblebees are aware of the electrical fields surrounding flowers and can glean useful information, which can help them identify particular types flowers and even if one of those flowers has been recently visited by another bee.

So it’s quite possible the ladybug was following the emanations of electricity or electromagnetic radiation in one way or another.

Alternate theory — it could read English!


It’s just running around and around. What could it be trying to do?

The ladybug made two brief forays outside its possibly electrically-inspired ambit.

It ran uncertainly over the bumpy terrain of the function keys on the user’s left-hand side of the keyboard and conspicuously — I thought — “rested” on the “esc” key, aka “Escape”.

It seemed almost repelled by the brightly-lit screen and stayed instead on the black frame of the screen which it repeatedly used like a jogging track, except for once, when it dashed straight up the middle of the screen and again — conspicuously — stopped by the “Help” menu item.


It’s so intent on something. What would this ladybug say if it could talk?

It finally woke up from its “nap” and went right back to running back and forth on the frame of the screen, up and down the USB cable, up to the summit of the Wi-Fi stick and back down onto onto the AC cord.

It began to annoy me so I gently coaxed it onto a piece of cardboard and took it outside.

I’m sure I’ll never know what it was up to.

Hey! I heard that.

Who just yelled “spy drone”? C’mon, fess up! Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Insects, Ladybugs, Windows

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