Split-eyed Owlfly (Ululodes sp.)

I thought this insect was a badly mangled dragonfly at first, one that was in the process of being sucked into a spider’s lair. You’re looking down at this insect — i.e., its right side is pointed upwards, its top is pointed sideways, and its legs are wrapped around a piece of wood in a boardwalk handrail. I thought there was a spider behind that piece of wood, which had captured a dragonfly and was pulling its broken body (why is it bent at 90 degrees?) down into the space behind the wood sliver.

Nope! This is a split-eyed owlfly (Ululodes sp.), and they sit like that. (Well, maybe not sideways, but definitely with the abdomen stuck at 90 degrees to the body.) This one is definitely alive — I didn’t get a lot of shots of it, because I don’t generally shoot dead insects, but looking back through the shots I did get, you can see its abdomen moving gently back and forth. It’s supposed to look like this. Who knew?

This individual was about the size of a small dragonfly, maybe 2.5cm long. I can’t find what, if anything, the “split” in the eyes does.

Owlflies in general (there are non-split-eyed ones too) are insectivores, both as adults and as larvae. Owlfly larvae resemble amazing furry antlions and I now have a new life goal (to find one and photograph it).

The kind people at iNaturalist, who are very patient with me, think this is either Ululodes floridanus or U. quadripunctatus.

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