The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

Don’t Use the Zed Word: Zombie Ladybug Babysitter Edition

We hate to sound like a broken record here at the ZRC, and new science is always fun, but the Zombie Community does not benefit from labeling every scary behavior in the animal kingdom as ‘zombie’, or even zombie-like.

Latest example in a long chain:

The green-eyed wasp Dinocampus coccinellae turns ladybugs into zombie babysitters. Three weeks after a wasp lays its egg inside the hapless beetle, a wasp larva bursts from her belly and weaves itself a cocoon between her legs. The ladybug doesn’t die, but becomes paralyzed, involuntarily twitching her spotted red carapace to ward off predators until the adult wasp emerges a week later. How D. coccinellae enslaves its host at just the right time had been a mystery, but now researchers believe the insect has an accomplice: a newly identified virus that attacks the beetle’s brain. The findings raise questions about whether other parasites also use viruses as neurological weapons.

Now, see, what about that sounds Undead to you, dear readers? Sure, there’s a virus, and many Zombie conditions are viral in origin. And there’s some behavioral alteration. But the ladybug isn’t Undead. In fact, sometimes, it even recovers and becomes a perfectly ordinary ladybug again:

A ladybug goes about her business for weeks as the D. coccinellae larva grows within her, feasting on her internal organs. Even after the larva emerges and turns her into a zombie bodyguard, a quarter of ladybugs eventually recover. Some even get parasitized again.

We’ve seen some recent ‘zombie recovery’ stories, like Warm Bodies, but generally, Undeath is a permanent state. That’s just one reason it’s so unfair to discriminate against Zombies!

But the most compelling reason to me is that this ‘zombie’ ladybug virus has a human analogue, which in no way causes Zombification:

On further inspection, the researchers classified the stowaway as a new species of Iflavirus, a type of RNA virus related to the polio virus. They dubbed it D. coccinellae paralysis virus (DCPV).

So unless we’re going to claim that polio is Zombie adjacent, the ZRC doesn’t see why the ‘Zombie Ladybug’ language is necessary. Or wise! Or fair to the Differently Animated!

‘Zombie’ does not equal ‘bad’, media. For shame.


About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.

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