Ben is taking a well-deserved vacation this week ...

Ben is taking a well-deserved vacation this week ...

Ben is taking a well-deserved vacation this week, so we're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust! The following post was originally published on July 28, 2020.

"Gee Ben," you are perhaps thinking to yourself, "that's a real nice picture of a little piece of filth. Thanks for sharing this marvel of nature with us today."

And sure, at first glance, this does look like a little pile of trash ... but that's exactly what the junk bug wants you to think!

If you look closely, you can see a couple of little legs poking out from underneath this pile. This is the larvae of the green lacewing, which belongs to the family Chrysopidae! Green lacewings are fairly common; they're small flying insects with green bodies and pale green diaphanous wings. Their larvae are not quite as attractive, however.

Green lacewing larvae are predators of tiny insects, especially aphids. When a lacewing larva find a prey insect, it stabs it with its sharp mouthparts, sucks out its delicious juices, and then hoists its desiccated husk onto its back. That's right; that little pile of trash is actually made up of the bodies of the lacewing larva's victims!

Why does the junk bug carry its dead prey on its back? It's believed that the pile of dead bugs serves as excellent camouflage. It makes sense, because these little guys are really hard to spot, especially since they move fairly slowly given their small size. It could also be that green lacewing larvae are just straight-up cold-blooded psychopaths. It's probably the camouflage thing, though.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

map of Virginia and surrounding areas

Please Visit Us Soon


Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Sunday - Monday: Closed


$10 for ages 18-59
$5 for ages 3-17, seniors 60+, and college students
FREE for children under 3, museum members, and members of ASTC participating institutions

My 4 year old son loves going to the museum. The exhibits are educational, interactive and kid-friendly.

Beth Deathrage

Hear More  arrow