It’s National Insect Week this week, and insects are creatures close to the hearts of many people in the Museum. So to celebrate here’s a Peanut-Head Bug, chosen as a favourite specimen from Hope Entomology Collections by Gina Allnatt in our Life Collections department. Gina explains why:
This species – Fulgora laternaria – is also referred to as the “Alligator Bug” because of the grin-like markings on the head process when viewed from the side. This is probably the biggest specimen of this species I have ever seen in any collection. It was obtained from the Amazon by Rev. A. Miles Moss who presented them to Edward Bagnall Poulton, the second Hope Professor of Zoology at the University of Oxford. The specimen was exhibited at the Royal Entomological Society in 1932.
The strange looking head is hollow, and its purpose may be to afford the insect some protection through mimicry. The insect sits on the side of a tree trunk, with its head pointing upwards. When viewed from the side it looks like a lizard. And if this doesn’t deter a predator it will then open its wings to reveal “eye” spots, complete with white markings that mimic light reflection.
Despite its fearsome appearance, the insect is completely harmless, and is a stunning example of adaptation in the insect world.
Gina Allnatt, Life Collections