Tortoise beetle larvae use their telescopic anuses to build shields from shed skin and poop

The larvae tortoise beetle Cassida sphaerula uses its telescopic anus to build a shield made from shed skin and its own feces. (Image credit: Caroline Simmrita Chaboo/Sally Adam/Kenji Nishida/Luke Schletzbaum)

Like their reptile namesakes, tortoise beetle larvae lug protective coverings around with them. But rather than residing beneath domes of bone and keratin, their shields are made of humbler materials: feces and shed skin. 

Plenty of insects — especially in their larval forms — create shelters for themselves. Caddisfly larvae create tubes of stones and sticks, while some caterpillars plod along encased in silk covered with debris.

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