Peanut-head Bug (Fulgora laternaria)

This weird looking creature is an insect, in the family Fulgoridae of the order Homoptera. The Fulgorids all have enlarged foreheads, but it is most remarkable in the peanut-head, so named because its head looks like an unshelled peanut. It grows to about three inches (8 cm) long.

The peanut-head can't bite. Its mouth is like a straw, so all it can do is suck juices from plants. That's why it needs a lot fancy defenses to scare away predators, like it's strange head.

Scientists think that the head is supposed to imitate a lizard's head, and animals that don't eat lizards are scared away. It is part of a complex anti-predator scheme the bug uses. The peanut-head has large red and black spots on its underwings that look like large eyes when the bug spreads its wings. If these don't scare away predators, the bug releases a skunk-like spray. In the rainforest there are so many things that want to eat the peanut-head that it needs a lot of defenses.

Copyright 1997-2007 Gerald R. Urquhart. For information on using this website in your classroom (which is free and highly encouraged), please contact Dr. Urquhart by email, urquhar5@msu.edu. Also, please send any comments or corrections to Dr. Urquhart.