Millions of ladybugs infested the Brock University campus over the past two weeks, though not all of them were truly the bugs they seemed to be.
The black-spotted orange beetles belong to the Harmonia axyridis species of the Coccinellidae family. More commonly, they are known as “Asian lady beetles” and are an invasive species to Canada, introduced in the early 1900s from Japan to help with aphid control. It is a common phenomenon for them to swarm into buildings in late October/early November because these bugs hibernate over the winter.
“They’re really quite harmless. I mean, they’re just little bugs looking for a place to spend the winter out of the cold,” said Heinrich Kaefer, professor of Biological Sciences with a specialization in insectology.
“Some of them do bite unfortunately, but it’s generally a reaction to people trying to kill them and shouldn’t be interpreted as an aggressive act of violence.”
This year however, reports have surfaced that the government of Canada has been using the ladybug invasion as a cover-up for espionage activities.
The rumours first arose when a student unsuccessfully tried to swat away one of the bugs buzzing her head as she was intently focused on studying for a midterm. When the small bug landed in her enormous 3206-page Canadian Income Tax Act textbook, she quickly shut the book, hoping to kill the bug. When she re-opened the book, here was no dead bug stuck on the pages; instead, tiny electronic pieces lay scattered around a crushed mirror-replica of a ladybug shell.
“I was so shocked,” said the student, who wishes to remain anonymous. “It was like entering some kind of surreal spy thriller.”
Information Technology Services (ITS) dissected the remains of the faux-ladybug and concluded that it was in a fact a high-tech bug with a built in microphone and camera.
“It’s state of the art technology. But not only that, it has been hidden inside a very real-looking ladybug and is controlled by a miniscule computer chip,” said Kevin Hardy of ITS.
More of these bugs have been discovered in post-secondary institutions and public buildings, leading to conspiracy theories that the newly established Liberal government is gathering information through subterfuge.
Jim Burns and Thane Hunter of the Political Science department at Brock both specialize in government conspiracy theories.
“It’s a very, very clever scheme. The swarming of ladybugs is a natural phenomenon at this time of year and so the spy-bugs are able to blend and no one would really notice a couple thousand more ladybugs flying around,” said Burns.
“It also worked out well because the Asian lady beetle does not have a specific amount of points, it can anything from one to twenty-two, or none at all. In fact, all of the spy-bugs have no dots on them. The budget probably ran out,” said Hunter.
So far, the Liberal government has denied these allegations and refused to comment further.
With the coming of the cold weather, the ladybugs have now retreated into little cracks and crevices of buildings where they will hibernate. Though many faux-ladybugs have been rooted out, the fear is that thousands more are hiding in places and collecting information.
“This is what the world is coming to,” said Burns. “Nothing is safe anymore. Even cute little ladybugs have turned into malicious spyware.”