Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stilt Bug


This long legged bug is aptly named the Stilt Bug (Family: Berytidae). With those extra long legs, they look very much like they are walking on stilts. Have you ever tried walking on stilts? For me it was an exhausting feat in and of itself just to get on them, much less try to walk. Fortunately for these guys it comes natural.

Even with those magnificently long legs, these are not very large bugs. They typically reach lengths up to 1/2 inch. When you first come across one of these bugs, you might be quick to think they are mosquitoes, and they actually do resemble them quite a lot. They are really in the order Hemiptera, which are the true bugs and are more closely related to Box Elder Bugs than mosquitoes. They will not sting, bite or otherwise bother you. No itchy welts from these guys. Stilt bugs feed on sweets like plant nectar and possibly small insects as well as insect eggs. Identifying these guys beyond genus is really difficult and usually requires close examination under a microscope. They are a relatively small group of insects with approximately 100 species. A few have transcended from feeding on flowers to sampling our garden crops like tomatoes, or gourds. Some species even seem to need a nicotine fix and feed on tobacco. None of these particular species or their feeding preferences seem to have a damaging affect on the crops. In fact they may actually be there to feed on other insects that are attracted to those same crops. It seems when looking up information on these odd little bugs, there are many conflicting accounts as to their diet.

In the spring they are very plentiful in our backyard, and can be found on all manner of flowering plants. Like the yarrow in the second picture. The first photograph was taken at Happy Holler Conservation Area in September. They can be difficult to see as they are very tiny, thin and non-descript in their coloring. Often they are easily overlooked, but slow, quiet movements through the flowers or vegetation will most likely prove productive and you will see them.

5 comments:

  1. Shelly two seriously awesome macros! The Stilt bug is pretty dang cool too. Someday I am going to get together with you and do some picture takin' talk. We could even talk "bugs" if you wanted to!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice shots, Shelly. Stilt Bugs rank up near the top of my Hard To Photograph list. With those long legs, there's so much bug spread over spread out of a relatively large area it's tough to get more than a small faction of it in focus.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Marvin. I think stilt bugs are so fascinating. I love to try and photograph them. Unfortunately, like you I find them to be difficult subjects so many of my shots do not come out very well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Never seen one before! Great shots.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Moe, they are very small insects, even with those long legs, plus they are very thin which makes them easy to go unnoticed.

    ReplyDelete