A Wolf in Linty Clothing

Back on September 15th, my girlfriend brought me this little “doodlebug,” or green lacewing larva, that she found outside her job. I was very excited, as I knew that many neuropterans cover themselves in debris as a means of camouflage, but I had never seen one before. I have seen larvae of lacewing genera such as Chrysopa and Chrysoperla, which do not exhibit debris carrying behavior, but what is as cool as walking around in a makeshift ghillie suit?


A chrysopid larva, possibly Ceraeochrysa, with debris

Unfortunately, I couldn’t rely on BugGuide this time as much for identification beyond family as chrysopid larvae photos are all dumped into a larvae category. This key to Florida fauna, however, leads me to believe this little guy belongs to the genus Ceraeochrysa. It is possible it belongs to a genus that occurs in Louisiana and not Florida, however glancing at the North American genera that seems unlikely.


The same individual with most of the debris removed

By removing some of its debris, I could get a better look at some of the setose, fan-shaped scoli that line the dorsal side of the body. In unison with setae on the dorsal side of the abdomen, these structures hold the debris in place. A quick google image search and you can find examples of members of this family using snail shells, dead ants and other insects, pieces of human garbage and a slew of other things as camouflage.

And before anyone protests, after exposing this little guy I returned its debris and it rapidly put it back over itself.

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