Friday, August 01, 2008

Handy-dandy larva ID guide

In the comments on my last post, about a mystery larva, Christopher Taylor contributed a handy rule of thumb that merits bookmarking. So I've given it a post of its own. Here he is:
"Quick (and not universally reliable) guide to identifying insect larvae: fly (Diptera) and Hymenoptera larvae both lack legs, but Hymenoptera larvae are generally confined to a nest and aren't out and about like fly larvae. Beetle and Lepidoptera (caterpillars) larvae both have six legs, but caterpillars have prolegs (leg-like stumps) in the back while beetle larvae don't. Lacewing larvae (such as antlions) have six legs and no prolegs like beetles, but can be distinguished from beetles by their enormous mandibles. The head of antlions also attaches to the first segment of the thorax very low down, which gives them something of a "flip-top head" appearance."
Thanks, Christopher!

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