Franz Kafka’s novel Metamorphosis was thought by Vladimir Nabokov to refer to a beetle *, and this is the story of a small beetle that metamorphoses through three distinct stages (post-egg), until it appears as our familiar ladybird (or ladybug in the US). There are rather a lot of photos today, and little text.
We begin with the larva, this one is I think the fourth of five stages:
It splits its skin (leaving white spiky remnants still visible), to form a pupa:
The pupa is motionless, and at the mercy of predators:
And from the pupa emerges the soft, spotless adult, head first and wings last:
The empty pupa case is left behind:
and the soft vulnerable ladybird rests with its wings expanded:
Gradually the wing cases harden, and the spots develop. This next photo is taken 2 1/4 hours after emergence:
24 hours later, it has fully darkened and the spots have grown too:
Small miracles, every day. here is a time lapse 3 minute video of the whole process:
To be precise, my photos are of a Harlequin Ladybird, or Harmonia axyridis, photographed in Maine, USA, but an immigrant from Eurasia. It is a member of the family Coccinelidae.
* Kafka’s beetle is sometimes referred to as a cockroach, but Nabokov, who was a renowned lepidopterist, thought it was just a “big beetle”, and drew a picture on his own annotated copy of Metamorphosis. It looks quite like a ladybird to me!