What’s this critter? Is it a catapede or a millipillar or what? I found it charging across my living room tonight (in bright light). I’ve lived here in Malibu (elevation 250 ft.) for 35 years and have NEVER seen this beast before. I didn’t find him (or her) in Hogue’s Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, nor in some extensive web hunting, so of course I had to bring him (we’ll call him a boy) into the kitchen for a quick photo session. He’s almost 3 inches long in the picture; 4 inches when walking fully extended. Several legs are visible in the photo (top) near his head (left). He’s pale on the underside. I thought he might be a millipede due to his hard, glossy exterior; but he definitely has only one set of legs per section (he has legs along its entire length). And he’s not cylindrical like the black millipedes I sometimes find here, but rather ovoid in cross-section, flattish. But he’s not quite like a caterpillar either; I don’t know any that have such hard bodies… but then look at those horns! In any case, I’m pretty certain he’s not a centipede. So what say thee? If you know this critter, please tell me where he’s indigenous, and if he has a latin name. I have half a hunch that he’s a foreigner in these parts….
P.S. If the photo didn’t come through, I can send it as an attachment. I have several other photos as well, if you’d like.
I wanted to contact a real expert before writing back to you. Eric Eaton quickly gave this excited reply
Whoah! Tell him to turn out the lights and he’ll get a real surprise:-) That sure looks like a larviform female of the glowworm, Zarhipis integripennis. In fact, I think we still need a shot of this for our field guide…. They feed exclusively on millipedes, so he could conceivably keep her in a terrarium with some soil and leaf litter and add a millipede or two….He could also take her outside some evening and see if she attracts any males (which ARE beetle-like, fly, and have these amazing feathery antennae). She will glow bright greenish-yellow from the pale membranes between her segments. Thanks for sharing! Makes my day:-)
Happy holidays to you.
So, Craig, I’m sure it would make Eric’s day even more exciting if you would send him a copy of the image for inclusion in the insect guide he is working on. Have a great day.