Tricky Bug ID Request
Location: Wekiva River, Orlando, Florida
July 7, 2011 10:59 pm
Hi there! My husband found this eviscerated bug while kayaking in Wekiva Springs. He grabbed it for me, as I am an amateur entomologist and love to collect and identify insects. I’m stumped! The insect was on the underside of a lilly pad, hanging from a web. I’’m assuming a spider had a delicious lunch! I tried to identify it, but to no avail. It seems like it’s been dead for some time, and there are no wings left. It is about 3 inches long, and the body is about 3/8” wide. It has 6 legs. I don’t know if there’s enough left to make a guess as to what it is. I was thinking some kind of dragonfly. I would really appreciate any guidance you might be able to provide.
This is the Exuvia of a Dragonfly, though we are not sure which species. An Exuvia if the cast off skin left behind when an insect or other arthropod molts. The immature Dragonfly is an aquatic nymph known as a naiad. When it nears maturity, it will climb out of the water onto a reed or other plant, or sometimes the side of a dock, and there is will molt for the final time. After its wings expand, dry and harden, it flies away leaving the “eviscerated” Exuvia behind. In your lateral view, the opening where the crack in the exoskeleton occurred allowing the winged adult to wriggle free is plainly visible in the thoracic region. Your ventral view gives a nice view of the extendable lower mandible that the naiad uses to capture its aquatic prey. The only Exuvia we receive more identification requests for than the Dragonfly is that of the Cicada.
Wow! That’s amazing! I didn’t even think about that. Makes sense, I watch my caterpillars molt all the time. I can’t even begin to tell you how long I searched that. Thank you so much for your help! I had made a friendly bet with my husband about what insect it was, so now I get a nice “I told you so!”. I really appreciate your help on this. And to think I was worried that it would be a pain for you to id!