A mysterious shaggy beast

While tagging trees during a transect, we found this strange creature walking up the trunk of a tree. It was about an inch long and looked like a Tribble, with a shaggy white burden on its back. The fuzz was soft, but I wasn’t sure what it was made of. Even a brief touch dislodged several pieces, causing the creature to hastily re-apply them with its mandibles.

What a strange lifestyle it has – it walks slowly with an ungainly motion, and is incredibly conspicuous against the dark bark of the tree. Is it poisonous? Is it making a display while searching for a mate? Is the fuzz alive? I don’t know! Look closely at this photo and the video below, which shows it in action.

Update – thanks to all of you this has been identified as the larva of a Neuropteran insect (Hemerobiidae). The fuzz is glued on, and might be made of the dead bodies of its prey…

One Comment Add yours

  1. NJ Scientist says:

    Maybe eggs sacs on a male’s back? I’ll ask http://www.whatsthatbug.com

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