Why would I take a photograph of this white fluff? Because it was walking around.
Can you spot the insect?
The "wolf in sheep's clothing" is a lacewing larva. It uses debris to disguise itself, and most of the time the disguise works, unless of course it starts walking.
green lacewing life cycle
brown lacewing larva
Lacewings are pretty common in Arizona and I found another lacewing larva last week. (Check previous posts about the life cycle of lacewings).
This lacewing was walking on the silk cocoon of a moth. You can just see the outline of the pale green moth pupa under the white strands of silk of the cocoon. I think the lacewing larva was trying to get inside, without much luck.
See its long jaws? I think it might be the larva of a brown lacewing, rather than a green lacewing, because it looks a bit different. The brown lacewing adult has brown wings, hence the name. They aren't as fragile-looking as the green lacewing and we tend to find them more often in the colder months.
Remember the lovely lacewing adult I showed you in Bug of the Week a few months ago? I promised to add a photo of the larva and I finally got one.
Lacewing larvae are amazing predators that feed on aphids, caterpillars, and even scale insects. Scale insects have a waxy coating that often is pressed tightly to the surface of the plant the insect is feeding on. The lacewing larvae use their forcep-like jaws to pry the scale’s covering up, allowing them to feed on the soft insect underneath.
Some lacewing larvae disguise themselves by covering their backs with plant materials or the bodies of their prey. The University of Kentucky has some good information about lacewings.