Ever get the feeling we have no idea what’s actually going on? Via Wired Science:
Something in the Peruvian Amazon is making weird, intricate structures that resemble white picket fences surrounding an Isengard-like spire. No one has any idea who the mysterious craftsbug (fungus? spider?) is, or what the structure is even used for.
Troy Alexander, a graduate student at Georgia Tech, spotted the first of these structures on June 7. The little, seemingly woven fence was parked on the underside of a blue tarp near the Tambopata Research Center, in southeastern Peru. He later spotted three more of the bizarre enclosures on tree trunks in the jungle.
“I have no idea what made it, or even what it is,” said William Eberhard, an entomologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
“I’ve seen the photo, but have no idea what animal might be responsible,” echoed Norm Platnick, curator emeritus of spiders at the American Museum of Natural History.
“I don’t know what it is,” said arachnologist Linda Rayor, of Cornell University. “My guess is something like a lacewing, but I don’t really know.”
Suspecting that some sort of Lepidopteran (a butterfly or moth) might be responsible for the design, we’ve begun querying entomologists who specialize in these organisms. “I have no idea,” said Todd Gilligan of Colorado State University, and president of The Lepidopterists’ Society. “Some moths construct an ‘egg fence’ around eggs, using scales from the abdomen to protect the eggs,” he said. “So constructing fences around objects isn’t unheard of, but I haven’t seen anything like this before.”