Peanut-head bug, Fulgora laternaria

Photos by Bob Thomas, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, May 2012.

One of the great and weird insects in the rainforest, the peanut-head bug is so named because the head looks like a peanut. It is believed that the head shape changed through natural selection to resemble the head of a lizard (causing it to be called the dragon-headed bug), thus lessening the chances of being attacked by lizards that love to eat insects.  It is also called a lantern bug due to a widespread belief that it produces light.

Aside from crypsis and resembling a lizard, the insect has two more defenses.  If approached by a potential predator, it rapidly opens its wings to reveal spots that appear to be eyes.  As last resort, they emit a skunky odor composed of chemicals they obtain from their resinous diet.

Insects this size usually bite (these don’t, they have plant sucking mouthparts) or are slow and lethargic (this one is not – it move in jerky rapid movements).

Peanut-head bugs are just fun!

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