Amy Whitehead's Research

the ecological musings of a conservation biologist

Wildlife Wednesday: Dobsonfly

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DobsonflyGo swimming in a stony bottomed stream in New Zealand and you might just find yourself toe to face with a toebiter or dobsonfly larvae (Archichauliodes diversus).  Looking like they have stepped straight from a B-grade horror movie, dobsonfly larvae are New Zealand’s largest freshwater insect reaching up to 5cm.  They have strong jaws, capable of giving you a good nip, but they prefer to dine on other stream invertebrates.  The “legs” that give them a centipede-like appearance are actually large gills. They can survive periods of time out of the water and are often found in small cavities dug into the mud.

However, just like the ugly duckling and the swan, this story has a pretty ending.  The adults, like the one above,  have a wingspan of up to 8cm and are pretty spectacular insects.

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