Monday, June 01, 2020

From Ferocious Meat-Eater to Handsome Acrobat

Meet Ed the Eyed Elater. Ed is a handsome beetle with a passion for acrobatics (he can flip himself off his back, hurling himself four times his body length). But don't let Ed's good looks and clever party trick fool you. In larvae form, he's a beast:

Found under logs and other dark, damp places, the Alaus oculatus larva looks like a stocky, yellowish-brown, segmented worm. It has a flat, dark brown rectangular head that ends in 2 powerful jaws. The jaws, which resemble small crab legs, are used to disable and dismember prey. An individual is about 2 inches long. It looks rather dangerous at the posterior end, too. The 10th segment has 2 anal hooks, 10-12 spines, and setae (hairs) in front of the anus.

Fortunately, Ed puts his powerful jaws, anal hooks and spines to good use eating garden pests. So if you see Ed, a Thank You For Your Service is in order.

Mostly I'm glad Ed stopped by my porch so I could meet a new critter all without leaving the comfort of our quarantine.

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