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?

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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.

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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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