The Myth Behind the Lantern Bug

Pyrops candelabriaPhoto:
Image: Richard Ling

Anti-air missile, elephant bug, Pinocchio – these are just some of the nicknames the lantern bug has to endure. All because its nose is slightly long. Okay, fine, that might be an understatement – it is about half the size of the bug’s whole body. If that weren’t enough, the bug’s even supposed to poke its long proboscis into people’s sex lives. Or better, the lack of it might kill them. Find out how.

Mouth close-upPhoto:
Image: Charles Lam

Go ahead, call me Cyrano de Bergerac, see who cares:

The lantern bug (Pyrops candelabria) is a tropical insect belonging to one of the more than 32,000 species of the homoptera order. What looks like a nose is actually an extended mouth so that these plant feeders can suck the sap from plants and trees.

The bug’s astonishing and memorable appearance didn’t go unnoticed and local folklore even attributes magical powers to the bug. For one, it was often believed that lantern bugs are able to produce light, similar to glow worms. But their wing patterns merely reflect light, making it look as if are glowing at night.