locust like with very long pincers
Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 6:38 PM
We found a live bug in the trees of the North Georgia Mountains. It is 4 and 1/4 inches long with long, external, transparent wings, marked with black “sketches” to look like birch bark. It has what appears to be two sets of small mandibles, one set it straight and the other curved. It also has a pair of very long, thin, 2 inch mandible like peices that resemble calipers and cross in front. Its head is large, thick and ziggurat shaped. The bug also has a strong rotting oder. (It is very alive and kicking however–not dead!) I appologize for the condition of the photo–I don’t have a great zoom on my camera. Thanks so much for your help!
Elijay, North Georgia Mountians
The descriptiveness and entertainment value of your letter more than makes up for the blurriness of your photo. This is a male Dobsonfly who can be distinguished from the female by his caliper-like mandibles. Though they look quite fierce, they actually are incapable of biting. The female is the biter. The mandibles of the male are used, according to what we have read, in the mating process or in the competition for the mate. We would love to see photo documentation of that. We have just recently posted several photos of female Dobsonflies and a photo of the closely related Giant Fishfly, so your letter is a welcome addition to our site. The Dobsonfly is one of our most common summer identification requests.
Thank you for your response. It is particularly good to know that the dobsonfly does not wield those mandibles on hikers!