Behold this adorable weird bug


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/27/behold-this-adorable-weird-bug.html


#2

It looks like a cottony scale insect to me (it’s not a wooly adelgid) but I don’t recognize the species right off; you’d have to key it down.


#3

I’m beholding right now.


#4

Knowing where this shot was would help. If it’s Calfornia, then this could be a late instar of Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, introduced from Australia to prey on mealybugs.


#5

Silence? Revolutionary! I totally expected the usual hushed voice-over, “the little bug spots its prey… and springs from its lair. Look at it go!”


#6

Could it not be the bug itself, but some kind of fungal infection?


#8

It looks almost like someone painted it.

Or it grew on top of the bug. That whole white body with black legs seems weird.


#9

#10

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!


#11

Looks like an Ortheziid scale insect. If it lives long enough, it might grow a giant waxy protusion:


#12

Artist: Rainer Petter


#13

Cottony scale. Cottony cushion scale. Something like that.

Adorable… maybe… as long as you don’t have a thousand of them eating your crops.

I pluck 'em off the leaves they are eating and either put them in a bucket of Dr. Bronner’s and water (no sodium-based soap because later I dump it all on the compost pile), or smash them, depending on how many I am dealing with.

http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r107301611.html

http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7410.html

http://idtools.org/id/citrus/pests/factsheet.php?name=Cottony+cushion+scale


#14

Hmm, yeah… also: yeeesh!


#15

That is some responsible, sustainable and healthy activity right there. Watch out that you don’t squish predators mimicing them, if you have those in your area.

Speaking of adorable weird bugs, I’m just going to leave this here.


#16

I am fully willing to call that a scallop carrot. Get enough people calling it that and there will be such a bug! And such a bug will be that thing.


#17

What evolutionary advantage does that offer?


#18

All such questions can only be answered with theories, since they are formally undecidable. But we have some pretty good theories!

Spittle bugs and other insects that exude material from their bodies interfere with predators’ ability to locate and consume them. That’s pretty straightforward. When the gunk is nasty looking, smelly or bad tasting, it’s even better. In the case of aphids and some of the scale insects, though, they’ve gone the opposite route - the material they exude is much better to eat than the insect itself, so they become livestock for ants, who will groom and protect them in exchange for their honeydew, much as humans protect cattle from wolves and blizzards in exchange for milk.

If I’m right in my suspicion that this bug is Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, it goes a step further - the material is a disguise which lets the insect, a predator on mealybugs, hide from the ant shepherds protecting the mealybugs.


#19

A Wolf Spider in sheep’s clothing?


#20

I love jumping spiders! Kind of the chickadees of spiders, in their wonderful boldness anyway, as they both are great at speedy escapes. (Be funny if chickadees did that “come at me bro” thing that jumping spiders do.)


#21

Its nemesis:

(Albino tarantula from Australia - of course * edit: plush toy variety)