Fulgora laternaria

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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Fulgoridae
Genus: Fulgora
Species: F. laternaria
Binomial name
Fulgora laternaria
Linnaeus, 1758

The Peanut Head Bug is a rare insect found in the Central and South American rain forest. This insect which was originally imported from China. Natives of this area also use other common names for the insect such as the lantern fly, peanut bug, peanut-headed lanternfly, alligator bug, and machaca. This insect which was originally imported from China can grow to be about 8 cm (3 inches) in length. The lanternfly cannot bite. As a result, it is forced to extract nutrients from plants with sucking mouthparts.

Fulgora laternaria has been found to rest and feed on certain trees in the rain forest that produce resins or toxic chemicals that are consumed by the insect. When danger is detected, it first protects itself by displaying fake eyes on its wings, and perhaps with its quite unusual head, and then chemicals are released as a "skunk-like spray" from the resins it eats. Lizards have also been found to visit these trees. In order to keep predators away, lanternflies mimic lizards with their reptilian-like enlarge head and other color and structural features.

side view of Fulgora laternaria

A very similar species, Fulgora lampetis shares much of the same range within South America, and many museum and commercial specimens identified as laternaria are actually this species. Though almost indistinguishable, F. lampetis has slightly more vibrant coloration, and a more swollen head protuberance when viewed from above.


In several countries, such as Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, there exists the myth that if somebody is bitten by the machaca, he or she must have sex within 24 hours to prevent an otherwise incurable death. The insect is actually harmless to people.