Ok, I lie. Clearly I did not encounter a crocodile here in Eastern Ontario (although, that would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it?)
But you just feast your eyes on this bad boy and try to tell me you don’t see some resemblance:
Now, had I not been fooling around with Diurnal Fireflies only minutes before coming across this critter, I may not have seen the likeness right away. But with the colours, habitat and prominent thorax of the Lampyrids on my mind, it is, in fact, what my brain decided this must be: a Firefly larva.
Allow me to get all sentimental and stuff for a minute…*ahem*
THESE GUYS ARE SO FRACKING COOL!!!!!
I mean, if you could take a trilobite, a croc, and an anteater, and mush them into a one-inch-long body, and stick 6 legs on it, this is pretty much what you would get.
They’re like flattened, compact, multisegmented little tanks
with a wicked armour of scutes
and a crazy snail-slurping head.
Oh, you didn’t see the head? That’s ’cause he’s hiding it. It’s extensible. And SO COOL. Here it is:
They use that bizarre, skinny little head to prod inside snail shells, then use their hollow mandibles to slurp up snail juices. YUM.
Now, I initially thought (silly me) that this larva must have been the same species as the adult Fireflies I saw (duh). But the Dirunals overwinter as adults, and clearly this is not an adult. Some poking around BugGuide leads me to think it’s probably a plain ol’ noctural Firefly, likely Pyractomena sp.; these overwinter as fifth-instar larvae, also in crevices of tree bark, and are seen in early spring.
I even found the exuvia from its last moult, perfectly nestled in the bark, hanging head-down:
The larvae have little claspers at the end of their abdomens for just this purpose (hanging out and shedding exoskeletons).
Ok, now, say it with me: “OMG SO COOL!!!!!”