Location: Coastal North Carolina
January 28, 2011 9:56 pm
My mom and I were walking around a small park and saw five of these insects. They didn’t seem to get longer than two inches, though I’m not sure if that’s because it was about 40 degrees out. They had this turtle-like head that would come out, strangely small and almost snake-like due to how long they could stretch it, but when I breathed on it, it drew the head back in. So after the first one, I started pointing them out and calling them the ’turtle-bugs’. I can’t seem to find it anywhere online, though I really have no clue where to begin looking. Perhaps you can help?
This curious creature is a beetle larva, and there are two different families of beetles that have larvae that look remarkably similar to one another. Our first guess would be that this is a Firefly Larva in the family Lampyridae, and you can see that your individual looks quite similar to this posting on BugGuide, however, Netwing Beetles in the family Lycidae, like this example on BugGuide, also look quite similar. The Larvae of Fireflies are predatory, and their prey includes snails, while the larvae of Netwing Beetles feed upon fungus.