Some sort of moth?
January 20, 2010
Hi Bugpeople! I’ve been an avid reader of your site for the past year or so and I’ve been meaning to submit this photo for some time.
It looks like some sort of moth, but I’ve never seen one with a mandible that size. This was taken in the early summer of 2005 in Southwestern Connecticut. It was on the pavement outside of a well-lit strip mall around 9 or 10 PM. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything in the photos for scale, but from the tip of the mandible to the other end was about 6 inches. It was very slow-moving and did not scurry or seem alarmed at the presence of several people crowding around it. What’s that bug?
Thanks and keep up the great work!
We are happy to hear you are a fan of our website. This stunning creature is a male Dobsonfly. The mandibles indicate that it is a male. Though they are rather frightening in appearance, they are harmless, but the much more modest appearing mandibles of the female are capable of producing a painful pinch if she is carelessly handled. This sexual dimorphism indicates that the mandibles of the male have developed as either an aid in mating, or as a competition between males for sexual prowess, but despite the frequency of Dobsonfly submissions to our site, we have yet to see a photograph of either the actual mating act, or the male using his mandibles in any manner. Adult Dobsonflies are short lived and do not feed, living only to mate and produce a new generation.