The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.


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*


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!!!!!”

24 responses to “CROCODILE!

  1. peteryeeles March 25, 2010 at 6:20 AM

    Does it have visible eyes?
    Does it have rocket launchers?

    That would have to be the coolest beetle larva I have ever seen! Very nice find.

  2. Ted C. MacRae March 25, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    Awesome head shot. Did you have to poke it or just be patient?

    • TGIQ March 25, 2010 at 10:03 AM

      Poking it had the opposite effect…it would just hunker down. I had to wait for it to relax and come out on its own. Well worth the wait, I think…

  3. jason March 25, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    OMG SO COOL! It really is a spectacular critter. And these photos are gorgeous, C. That head shot especially boggles the mind (and not just because the head seems so anticlimactic to the armored beast itself).

    But I admit I was originally laughing. My first thought was either you had used too many drugs before going outside or you were suffering from pareidolia, or both. Because I couldn’t imagine how you’d see a crocodile up there.

    • TGIQ March 25, 2010 at 6:37 PM

      FINALLY someone plays along with my “OMG SO COOL” game, yeesh! Extra bonus points for you Jason!

      The head is really super-crazy. I had to watch it for some time before he poked it out, and the moment I grazed him with my finger, he went back into hiding (and I had to wait again for the shot).

      And, ok, maybe I was a bit giddy when I started on about crocs, but tell me that bug doesn’t get you all tingly and OMG COOL.

      (Off to Google pareidolia)

    • TGIQ March 25, 2010 at 6:38 PM



      With me, well, it could happen.

  4. mthew March 25, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    Extraordinary looking. It doesn’t need rocket launchers.

  5. neil March 25, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    Hmmm…looks more like a miniature aetosaur to me. Great shots!

  6. myrmecos March 25, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    That’s a mean looking beast.

  7. Joy K. April 6, 2010 at 9:28 PM


    I must go poke some bark.

  8. Joan April 7, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    This is truly neat! I suspect I’d be freaked out at first if I’d encountered one of these without reading you post. But this is great. Love the head shot. Thanks for being patient, taking the shots and sharing!

  9. Adrian Thysse April 7, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    Very cool.
    I hope I come across one of these someday. Handy to have in the garden if they eat slugs as well!

  10. TGIQ April 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Seems like early spring is the best time to look, on trees with rough bark, on the sunny side…happy hunting!

  11. allthingsbiological April 10, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    Great pictures!!!

    The head doesn’t get less creepy after metamorphosis. I have an adult headshot posted on my blog on April 10th. Double click on the image to get the full impact.

    You did a spectacular job with this photo set!

  12. Pingback: First Arthropod Image with XotoPro « Things Biological

  13. Pingback: See ya, 2010… « Fall To Climb

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