Insect larva that looks like a scorpion?

texaspuddyprintAugust 16, 2006

Found this bugger eating the leaves of a Texas Sugarberry tree (anacua) which is in the hackberry family.

It's small - about 1/2" long and has feet with claws. The tail is usually curled upward and it seems to mimic a scorpion. It looks like it has hairs coming out of the sides but they are spiny branches.

Any ideas what this is?

~ Cat (tip of south Texas / zone 9)

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

We GOTTA get this one. It's a stinging slug caterpiller of some kind, right? That tail thingie....can't quite place this one. Let's put our thinking caps on, lol!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 1:28PM
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Day_By_Day

You got me! That's two hours of life I'll never get back until I find out what it is. Now I'm on a mission! I've gone through all the stingers, no luck. Something weird about the tail. Some keep their molts attached as camoflage. The "claws" part is weird too.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 2:58PM
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webkat5

You said it DBD...spent an hour when this thread first appeared...to no avail, I might add....slug caterpillar was as close as I could get, too.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 10:00AM
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susanlynne48

The tail thing could be something like the curved hook thing on hornworms when they pupate, which contains the probiscus of the moth. Is this a possibility?

Susan

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 11:06AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

OK...who can we send this off to for an ID? Does anyone have an 'in' with a specialist or lab?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 2:11PM
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malorn

What about bug guide..They have a form for ID requests....might be complicated tho...never have done it...

Here is a link that might be useful: bug guide..

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 5:55PM
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texaspuddyprint

This thing is still alive. I keep putting in fresh cuttings for it. It hasn't pupated into anything yet...am assuming it eventually will. Still have no idea what it is!

I wasn't sure if it would sting or burn like an asp so I do keep my distance when changing out the cage.

~ Cat

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 7:47PM
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Day_By_Day

Super! Can you photograph it again from all sides, and then from the bottom through the glass. Might help.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 9:49PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Cat...if it is one of the slug caterpillars (and we all think that it is), it will sting. The urticating cells are usually held in those extensions along the side.

I, too, would like to see other images, and am most interested in that 'tail'.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 8:16AM
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texaspuddyprint

AHA...Bugger has been IDENTIFIED!!! I emailed the Texas Entomology website and Mike Quinn quickly id'd it. I checked on the bug today and it has started to pupate or transform into a beetle now.

http://www.texasento.net/Coptocycla.htm

~ Cat

Here is a link that might be useful: Anacua Tortoise Beetle

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 9:00PM
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Day_By_Day

Aw, man. I was gonna say that.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 9:16PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hmmmmm. Maybe another species of tortoise beetle....a close relative? Sure doesn't look like what you have.

Good job! I've sure seen different kinds of tortoise beetles, but never occured to me to find out what the larvae looked like. Fascinating!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 12:14PM
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susanlynne48

So are they good guys or bad buys or in between guys? What is their purpose in the general insect scheme of things?

Susan

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 12:13PM
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Day_By_Day

I'd say not beneficial to the leaves they eat.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 12:54PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Their purpose? To be born, to eat, mate and create the next generation. But I think you mean what is its role in the human scheme of things, lol!

Here's how I look at it. All plants can tolerate a certain amount of insect activity. If I see a large population of one pest insect on a particular plant, I'll consider taking some kind of action to get it back into balance. For example, I see maybe 5 Japanese Beetles all year in my garden and I ignore them completely. But if I saw one munching on one of my bonsai, he's be tossed in the bird bath.

Tortoise beetles are not usually considered a pest species, unless you have one or two on some very young seedlings. They don't travel in huge crowds, thankfully. Birds will eat them.

Say, did you read that that 'scorpion' tail is actually collected beetle doo? And I guess those little spines won't sting. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 2:27PM
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bigthicketgardens

Wow! Very cool, thanks for sharing that.

Texaspuddyprint, the one in your pic is way cooler looking than the others. It's frass formed into a dragon head somehow.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 1:45PM
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