Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Hellgramite Wandering Equals Dobsonfly Pupae
But after their years in the water, about mid May, the older ones leave the water and begin to wander looking for a safe place to hide while changing into an adult insect.
The one in this picture is 4 inches long and was hard to get to sit still for a photograph. They move constantly, and bite hard when picked up. This one was found wandering across a gas station parking lot. It crawled around the cage I put it in for a week before it curled up and lay quietly for another week under a large piece of bark on some wood chips.
It has six true legs but appendages on each segment of it's abdoman look like additional legs. They are useless as legs, though. But notice the 4 "claws" on the tail end. It uses these to thrust itself backward very quickly, much like a crayfish.
Last Friday night, after a week of quiet, it shed the black/brown larval skin and entered the pupae stage of its life.
It twists and turns as if it is having dreams of an active adult life. When I took these pictures it used its jaw and body to try to push itself back under cover. It could move quickly.
And its jaws still work and look pretty mean as can be seen in the bottom picture.