Aphid Lion

I love this weird bug: the aphid lion. It eats the teensy wooly aphids—they look like single snowflakes—that are drifting down from Hackberry trees everywhere.

But get this: all the fluffy stuff on this guy is not actually this guy. The fluffy stuff is a wig made of wee dead bodies. The aphid lion excavates the innards of its prey via a sucking mouthpart, and then piles the desiccated bodies on its back AS CAMOUFLAGE.

It is a sheep in wolf’s clothing for sure, ’cause it looks like a jumbo version of its plant-eating prey. Aggressive mimicry at its finest.

I removed a piece of camouflage to see what would happen, and the aphid lion stopped, found the fallen corpse, wove it back into the tangle, then kept on walking.

All those cartoony, twinkling legs under the load make me giggle (because I am not an aphid). And why do I keep thinking of Phyllis Diller’s hair?

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(EDITED: Here’s a later post about the aphid lion egg and a hatchling. Aphid lions are the larva of green lacewings.)

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