The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Tag Archives: larva

Remind me why I love my dogs (7)


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!!!!!”


A moss-cloaked stump had been bathed in unseasonably warm morning sunshine.  Having been frozen for months, the wood was now merely cool, and was pleasingly spongy to the touch.  I could easily imagine it being a soft, cozy den for all manner of wood-dwelling critters, as it surely was for this fellow:

It was still groggy with slumber, but raised its head in greeting:

Its impressive mandibles slowly opened and closed…

I believe these to be in the Darkling Beetle family (Tenebrionidae), but will have to do some snooping to confirm this hunch.   BugGuide people are saying it’s most likely an Elaterid, or Click Beetle.  I will keep snooping to confirm.  In the meantime, enjoy the buggy picture goodness.

Wood-boring beetle

I piled the dogs in the car and drove down to a small “road” that branches off my own.  It is technically a “road” (it has a sign, a name, and can even be found on a map), but it’s never seen a plow and is not much more than a 4-wheeler trail running through the bush and later a corn field.  In other words: a great place to walk (not so great to drive, although I did for about a kilometer or so in my sedan, until I was convinced that the next icy/slushy rut was going to = one Geek and three dogs stuck in a ditch).  We piled out, the dogs tore off and immediately found an ancient deer carcass (roll, snack, shake, GLEE)…I sighed and went looking for bugs.  

I found some fresh-looking larval galleries.  I then noticed a small oval-shaped area that was distinct from any gallery and seemed packed with fresh “sawdust”.  I took my knife a poked some of the dust out…then carefully cut off a bit of wood…I excavated a bit more…and a bit more…until this little face was looking back at me: 


This is another new critter for me.  The head capsule has a very distinct, dark “V” shape in the middle, and the pronotum (the segment directly behind the head) is semi-circular and much wider than the head at the top, where it tapers into lightly pointed tips.  The margin closest to the head is thickened and a little bit “rolled up”-looking, which you can see better from the front.  

Head and pronotum

Pretty cute, don’t you think?


Dear March: thank you for the larvae

Dear Month of March,
you are lovely and splendiferous in every way this year; you bathe me in warm sunshine, rouse wildlife from winter slumber, and whisper delicious promises of spring.  
Now, I know that generally you like to blast eastern Ontario with one last big dump of snow.  A big dump of snow that makes us Ontarians pull our boots back out of storage, search our trunks for the windshield scraper, and curse the fact that we decided to get the summer tires put back on.   I understand that you think this is a wonderfully funny joke to play.  I get it.
But if you could NOT this year, I would really, really appreciate it.  It’s too freaking nice out.
Yours Truly,
The Geek
P.S. Thank you for all the cool larvae and excellent ambient lighting today.
I found oodles of goodies today; I am happily satiated with enough photographs to last me to the weekend.  First, I’ll share that I got some excellent pics some Flat Bark Beetle larvae, which really show off the rear-end armaments.  I added them to my old post…check them out (just scroll down a bit)!
Now, for this guy: I think this small long-horned beetle larva is a member of the flat-faced subfamily (Lamiinae).  It has freckles on its head, hee.

Cerambycid (long-horned beetle) larva

The tree I found it on was really, really dead.  The bark practically crumbled away in my hands.  If I had to take a stab at what species the tree was, I would guess white elm.   Anyone have any guesses who this might be? 

I have a question for Ted now.  (Yes, you, Ted.)   Oh heck, I’ll throw this one right out there in case someone else knows too.  

Is there any way to rear critters like these with only the bark that they were tunnelling in, or it is necessary to have a whole chunk of tree?

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