Tag Archives: owlfly

Neuroptera larvae

22 Sep

I won’t even try to guess whether these alien beings are owlfly or antlion larvae, but consider that two years ago my discovery of these made me think aliens had in fact landed, and I’m just happy I can ID these weird suckers…to a point.


I was doing my nightly “flip everything over to see what turns up” rounds when I stumbled on these guys. They looked like chunks of dirt,  but those gorgeous mandibles were a dead giveaway.

So, although these things seem to have just landed from somewhere in outerspace, they are just the larvae of lacewings, antlions, and owlflies in the order Neuroptera. (More on that later ;))

Quiz answers and bug nerd shout outs

14 Aug

So what were your answers?

















The answers are as follows:

1. F, 2. H, 3. B, 4. G, 5. A, 6. E, 7. C, 8. D

1. Bird-dropping (Death’s head) spider

2. Ladybug (beetle) larvae

3. Rhinoceros beetle larvae

4. Mountain katydid

5. Pollen and nectar feeding katydid

6. Whip spider

7. Early instar of an owfly

8. Giant huntsman on my face

Okay, so maybe you were only able to get #8…I did put it in there for a freebie.  (And in case you think I’m completely crazy, you should know that the huntsman was dead…so I’m only half crazy.)

And don’t feel bad, I did not know 1-7 myself before researching them.  But that’s the fun, isn’t it?

We had a couple of people guess all of them correctly, so a special WE shout out to Marc at entomacrographic and to Drhoz.

**Be sure to click on the above links (1-8) to find out more about the featured creatures.**

(All photos property of Lisa Vankula-Donovan unless otherwise stated.)

My Favourite Snapshots

11 May


So, I thought since I was asking you guys to submit a few snaps for the photo contest, I would post some of my favourite shots that I’ve been able (see lucky) enough to get.

Which ones do you like?

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

Mottled Katydid

Mottled Katydid

Christmas Beetle

Christmas Beetle



St. Andrew's Cross Spider

St. Andrew’s Cross Spider



Double Drummer Cicada

Clanger Cicada

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis



Dainty Tree Frog

Dainty Tree Frog


Mystery Bug

Mystery Bug

So, this last photo is a bug I haven’t figured out yet.  Funny story behind it.

I saved it from the pool, it seemed lifeless.  I laid it on a shirt in the office overnight figuring if it ‘came back to life’ at least it would be in the office and not escape.  The next morning it was off the shirt, I located it then took it out to the front porch where I got some pictures.  Later that night it was still hanging out on the front porch and I went to pick it up…it flew down and landed right in front of Hunter, my giant green tree frog who promptly ate it.

R.I.P. Mystery Bug

Don’t forget about the photo contest.  For rules/submission guidelines —>http://wannabeentomologist.com/2013/05/07/photo-contest/

The Owlfly

26 Jan


Okay, so I have to tell you, I’m a little too excited about this blog post.  Mainly because (unless you saw me post part of the answer on Facebook) you are not going to believe what the above creature is.  Well, what it turns into, I should say.

Let me first tell you that the above version of the insect is not the final product.  Crazy, right?  That’s what I thought.  See, like katydids (as I mentioned in this blog post —>) and most other insects, they go through many stages, or ‘instars’ as they are referred to.  Instars are defined as “a phase between two periods of molting in the development of an insect larva or other invertebrate animal”.  As an example, fleas go from egg, larva, pupa and finally to adult.

The above picture is only the second instar.  Now, when I found out what these little guys become, my first thought was, “Wow, talk about an ugly duckling!”  But that was of course in reaction to what they finally become.  But truth be told, when I first found this bug I didn’t necessarily think it was ugly but more…unusual. So unusual, in fact, that when a friend of mine suggested perhaps I had found a new species (talk about dreaming) I actually thought it might be true.  I mean, have you ever seen anything like that?

Well, fortunately for all of us, there are people out there who have dedicated their lives to identifying these types of things and after much research of my own, that led absolutely nowhere but the wrong direction, I decided to write to an expert at the University of Queensland and beg for help.

I’m happy to say that a mere day or two later, Kathy Ebert from U of Q wrote me back.  And in addition to her answering my question, she included some really great links.

So, with no further ado (and I know I’ve made you wait) I will post Kathy’s letter, some pics of the final product and the links.  Be sure to note the last paragraph where she mentions my blog.  🙂  Enjoy!



Cloudy-wing Owlfly

*photo credit: http://www.brisbaneinsects.com

Hi Lisa,

 Thanks for your query!  It’s not a Heteropteran because Heteropterans have piercing and sucking type mouthparts and this guy has great big grabbing mandibles out the front.  What you have is a Neuropteran larva!  Neuropterans include lacewings, ant lions and owl flies.  These are great insects to have in the garden as they are predaceous on pest insects.  This larva is probably a type of owlfly based upon those projections along the side of its body and how flat it is.  The Australian Museum has some good information about these creatures.  Check out:
The following websites also have photos and more info about Neuropterans and their very cool larvae.   Some attach debris to their bodies as camouflage; others dig those little pits you see in the sand where they’ve made ant traps.
I took a look at your blog and it looks like you’re off to a good start.  Your katydid photo is a beauty!   Your owlfly larva should give you some interesting things to write about.   If you have any bug queries in future, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I’ll try and remember to take a look at your blog periodically to see how you are going!
Kind regards,
***Quick note:  There are many types of owlflies and I’m sure at this point you are shaking your head saying, “I thought those things were called Dragonflies anyway.”  I promise to clear up the difference in a future post.  Once you know how to tell these guys apart, you’ll be surprised you ever got it wrong.