"Wolf-in-Sheep's-Clothing" Strategy of a Predaceous Insect Larva

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  17 Feb 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4330, pp. 790-794
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4330.790


The larva of the green lacewing Chrysopa slossonae lives in colonies of the wooly alder aphid Prociphilus tesselatus upon which it feeds. It disguises itself as its prey by plucking some of the waxy "wool" from the bodies of the aphids and applying this material to its own back. The investiture protects it from assault by the ants that ordinarily "shepherd" the aphids. Larvae artifically denuded are seized by the ants and removed from the aphid colonies. A larva requires on the average less than 20 minutes to coat itself with wax. A hungry denuded larva gives the coating procedure about the same behavioral priority as feeding.

Stay Connected to Science