Subject: weird arthropod
Location: Windhoek, Namibia
March 19, 2014 2:42 pm
Hi, I found this very fascinating arthropod in my garden ( today at night, Windhoek, Namibia ). It is about 4cm in length and brightly coloured. 3 pairs of legs. About 12 segments with small paranota. It has a very small retractable soft head. It can coil up half way ( not fully like a centipede ) and is rather sluggish. It keeps “cleaning” itself with a special tail gland ( weird ). we have a lot of rain recently and more snails than usual. I found it close to some snails.
Could you please help to id it and what does it prey on ? Does it feed on small snails, maybe dead ones ? Is it a predator or rather a scavenger ? Is it Poisonous ?
Morphologically, your arthropod looks very similar to the larval form of two families of beetles in North America: Firefly Larvae in the family Lampyridae, with individuals posted on BugGuide, and Net Winged Beetle Larvae in the family, also with individuals posted to BugGuide. Eric Eaton once told us that if you want to be sure of the difference, place the larva between a snail and a mushroom. If it goes after the snail, it is a Firefly larva. If it goes after a mushroom, it is a Net Winged Beetle larva. Firefly Larvae are predators that feed on Snails and Slugs. They are not poisonous.