Firefly Larva? or Netwing Beetle Larva? from Malaysia

Wonders from Malaysian Borneo!
Location: Malaysian Borneo
August 12, 2011 9:09 pm
Hey Bug-people!
A challenge for you!
I took myself backpacking through Southeast Asia a while ago, and came back with some amazing pictures of bugs.
I’ve included three of what were to me the most fascinating and baffling varieties. Can you help me identify them?
Signature: Doug

Netwing Beetle Larva, or Firefly Larva

Hi again Doug,
We have split up your question into separate postings.  …  Your third insect is a larval Firefly not unlike this North American example.  Did we meet your challenge?

Wow!  I guess everything’s bigger on Borneo, because that larval Firefly was  nearly three inches long!
Thanks for that. The info about the flatworm was particularly fascinating.

Hi again Doug,
We are ready to research the Bornean Firefly Larva, though we cannot discount that it might be a Netwing Beetle Larvae.  Eric Eaton says the way to tell the difference it to introduce a snail.  If the beetle larva eats the snail, it is a Firefly Larva.  If it prefers fungus, it is a Netwing Beetle Larva.  We imagine that there may also be snail and fungus specificity in the preferences.  Here is an example from The Flying Kiwi of a Larviform female Netwing Beetle from Viet Nam, and here is another example of a Netwing Beetle and The Flying Kiwi‘s, AKA Richard Seaman’s, written account:  “I didn’t notice that this one in Malaysia was glowing, but it turns out that both this and the Vietnamese “firefly” aren’t fireflies at all, they’re actually the larvae of net-winged beetles in the genus Duliticola, otherwise known as “trilobite larvae” because of their prehistoric shape; the one you see here is Duliticola hoiseni.   The drops of liquid on this one’s back look like they are some toxic substance exuded for protection, I’m not sure if that was for my benefit or whether it was already feeling stressed when I arrived.” Interestingly, last year Bert traveled to Malaysia and he sent us a Netwing Beetle or Firefly Larva as well as a Land Planarian.  Though there are similarities, they are both distinctly different for your examples.  We imagine there is great diversity in the jungles, and there may also be distinct local populations that over time have developed into distinctly different looking relatives that may or may not be different species.

2 thoughts on “Firefly Larva? or Netwing Beetle Larva? from Malaysia”

  1. Looks like this perticular one is a female trilobite beetle, which retains this form throughout its cycle. The males though does change into a more beetlelike appearance.


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