Stunning Microphotograph Shows Ladybug's Prickly Boots

You've never seen a ladybug like this. Nikon’s 2013 Small World microphotography competition's 7th place prize went to Jan Michels, who took this image of an adhesive pad on a foreleg of ladybird beetle, or Coccinella septempunctata. (Image credit: Jan Michels)

What looks like a vivid, prickly broom is actually an adhesive pad on a foreleg of Coccinella septempunctata, or ladybird beetle (also called a ladybug). Dr. Jan Michels of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in Germany, captured the image of the beetle's foreleg at 20x magnification using autofluorescence and the optical imaging technique confocal microscopy. ("The key to the confocal approach is the use of spatial filtering to eliminate out-of-focus light or flare in specimens that are thicker than the plane of focus," according to the Nikon microscopy website.)

These beetles have distinctive spots and bright coloring to make them unappealing to predators. The coloring reminds possible threats that ladybird beetles would taste awful if preyed upon. Creatures not deterred by the ladybird's coloring will taste a foul fluid secreted by its leg.

The photo was among the winners at Nikon's 2013 Small World microphotography competition, where it placed seventh.

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site