This is a great time to see these wonderful creatures as they are just starting to appear on their favourite trees.....where they can stay for generations; look for them on Longan trees, often seen in pairs on the trunks, just around head height.
These beautiful, intricate bugs can also be found on lychee trees - around Hong Kong.
Found across the Asian tropics the Lantern bug (pyrops candelaria) is a weird and wonderful insect: it has a head that is produced into a hollow structure resembling a rhino horn often nearly as large as its body, six legs, extremely varied and brilliant contrasting coloration, the mouth of a mosquito, and often stays for generations on the same tree. Its fantastic appearance is matched by the myth that the head structure was luminous at night. Carl Linnaeus coined both common and latin names to illustrate the supposed fact, adopting the statement without question from a lady entomologist in 1690. By the time the error was discovered, both names had stuck.
Above, with another of my favourite animals, my lovely wife, Sally.
Its eating habits are equally interesting, as it uses its sharp rostrum to puncture trees, fruit, and plants in order to get a juicy meal of sticky sap. Since sap is high in sugar and low in the other nutrients needed for insect development, it needs to eat a lot. But then the large amount of sugar causes a problem for the lantern bug; it solves this by allowing the excess sap to drip from its body as honeydew. So you can sometimes find moths or even geckos licking the behinds of these strange beasts. This bug goes through an incomplete metamorphosis. From egg to nymph, which simply grows into a larger version as the adult.
As we all know, children's nature and environment education is vital for the future of the planet, and I was very pleased to support with some video training the Lumivoce 2022 Voices for the Planet - A Biodiversity Education Program through the Arts. If your kid or school is not already signed up, then I would encourage you to get involved for next year. See https://www.lumivoce.org/
It was lovely to receive the recent message from the organisers as well....
Shaun is 5 year old from HK Munsung College Kindergarten, and he created a poster about a lantern bug inspired by you! Tiffany, his mom told us about it and I thought you'd enjoy this fun artwork from him! Thanks for your support of our program and children!
To see more great artwork and ideas please see the link below and get inspired for 2023.