Subject: Why does this insect have a tongue?
Location: Beni, Bolivia
February 19, 2014 8:57 pm
I’ve never seen another bug like this one. It was in Bolivia, in the Beni province, near the Beni River outside of the town of Rurrenabaque. I think it was April or May at the time.
This is some species of Mantis, and we hope to be able to provide you with a more definitive identification regarding is genus or species. We have to confess that we are not that skilled in insect anatomy, but we did a bit of research. A general breakdown of the mouthparts of an insect can be found on Insect Identification for the Casual Observer and the tongue is not mentioned. We are speculating that the pink organ you are referring to is either the mandible or the maxillae. Insect Identification for the Casual Observer provides the following definitions: “Mandibles These are hard jaws meant for gripping and biting, most often found on insects like ants” and “Maxillae Secondary jaws, usually past the primary jaws for further destruction of the prey.” According to the University of Kentucky Entomology site: “Mantids also have chewing mouthparts.” Since your individual does not have wings, we are guessing it is an immature specimen and it resembles this Bark Mantis in the genus Liturgusa that is pictured on FlickR. Images from Honduras on American Insects supports that identification.