Alligator-headed Lanternfly (Fulgora laternaria = Laternaria phosphorea)

Pricing: Dead (spread, as pictured): $75
Geographic Range: Central & South America
View: Top View  Size: Wingspan: 12-13 cm

Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

Despite its strange appearance, Fulgora laternaria is quite harmless. Often called "The Alligator-headed Lanternfly" or "Peanut-headed Lanternfly" it is also known as "The Machaca". One of the strangest Neotropical insects known, its odd-shaped "nose" is actually hollow and probably serves to scare away predators. In addition, the eye spots on its wings can be flashed to startle birds and other predators and if that fails they may emit a strong musk - which smells like that of a skunk - before flying off to another tree. Despite rumors that they are phosphorescent, this phenomenon remains undocumented. They can be found, with wings folded back over their bodies, on the trunks of trees where they feed on sap, their mottled forewings allowing them to blend in perfectly with the bark. Fulgora laternaria are also capable of producing sound by drumming their hollow heads against tree trunks. A similar species Fulgora lampetis shares the same range. Though almost indistinguishable, F. lampetis has slightly more vibrant coloration.