Subject: Smart Tail
Geographic location of the bug: Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania
Time: 03:13 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi Bugman,
I have a pepper plant that some aphids infested. I took it outside in hopes of some ladybugs would predate them. I checked on the plant the next day, and the aphids were still there, but very docile. I also noticed this weird bug on the bottom with the aphids. It didn’t move at all when I turned the leaf over and examined it. I then pinched the leaf off the plant and placed the leaf on the porch to examine the bug better. It then moved very, VERY quickly to the top of the leaf, which was now facing the porch and therefore shady. I flipped the leaf over again, and the bug continuously sought shade. It used its tail-abdomen in a very intellectual way; it seemed like it used its tail the way a monkey would, to grasp and hold onto things. It had six paper-thin legs and surprisingly long pincer-like mouthparts. Its body appeared translucent and the colors are actually the organs. I think it may be the larval stage of some insect. It was about three aphids in length. I didn’t want to capture it and possibly kill an unknown species, so I returned the leaf to the pot and rested it on the edge. I examined the plant the next day and all the aphids were gone, as well as the unknown bug. I don’t want to assume that the bug ate all the aphids, but something definitely ate everything because there was nothing left. I have not seen any aphids on the plant since nor have I seen this weird little guy. Can you help me out in identifying this bug?
How you want your letter signed: Kayla
Your observations and deductions are fascinating. Your assumption that this Lacewing Larva, commonly called an Aphid Wolf, ate the Aphids is most likely correct. Though Lady Beetles are most commonly thought of as Aphid predators, Lacewings, both adult and larval, and Flower Fly larvae are probably more effective at controlling Aphids.