What North American swamp crawler is this?
June 3, 2010
I found this scary little bugger crawling across the C&O Canal about 5 miles outside of D.C. It was probably 3 inches long, and all brownish black. It had a dull sheen to its exoskeleton. Although it appears to have many legs like a centipede, it only used the six longer legs (three on each side) on its thorax for movement. The other legs on the abdomen weren’t moving, and seemed to be spikes. The abdomen takes up half of the total body length, and seems very flexible in movement like a human tongue. On its head, were two proportionally large pinsirs. When provoked (by my shoe) it reared back a little into the air, and opened these pinsirs wide as a warning. When under attack, the abdomen was able to curl and launch the creature perfectly backwards away from my foot, in a fluent movement. It could repeatedly do this like a crawfish jets backwards with its tail. When crawling forwards normally, the bug did not have an “S’ movement, but was about to crawl perfectly straight, barely using its abdomen. It had no antennas also. What kind of bug is this?
P.S. I have a video of the bug writhing backwards, but your site won’t allow me to upload it. Would you like it?
Joey C.
Washington D.C. on the C&O Canal


Hi Joey,
You had an encounter with a Hellgrammite, the larva of a Dobsonfly.

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