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.
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.
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.
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.
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.