News Article

News Article

Creepy Beetle Larva Wears Armor Made of Its Own Poop

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If you happen to be eating while reading this, you might want to put that sandwich down for a moment, because we're going to talk about poop and parasites. Specifically, as they relate to a certain species of beetle which actually stores up feces in its body as protection against predators and wears it as a literal shit-shield.
 
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The Cereal Leaf Beetle Larva, shown above, has been a bit of a web celeb lately, with images circulating on Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and it's the subject of a recent post on entomology blog The Bug Geek, where they attempt to clear up a bit of misinformation.
 
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See, this larva often falls victim to a parasitic wasp called Tetrastichus julis, which fills the bug's body with its own eggs; when the eggs hatch, they burst out of the still-living creature like tiny little Alien chest-bursters. But according to the experts, that's not what you're seeing inside this larva's translucent shell, as many observers have been led to believe... instead, it's just a load of crap.
 
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The so-called “fecal shield” results from leaf beetles and other similar species (like the Tortoise Beetle shown above) depositing their own waste material on their backs, creating a literal suit of armor made of dried feces. The females make each of their larva its own bundle of protective poo – kind of like knitting them cute little sweaters, except made out of nightmares and last night's dinner.
 
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The defense doesn't always work, as evidenced in the closeup above, in which you can see one of the parasites taking hold within the shield (it's the lighter-colored one toward the front). So the little guy is probably doomed anyway. You're welcome.
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