Mesquite Bug Mosh Pit
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There’s something about today’s image that really attracts me. I don’t know what it is. Some of you may like it, others, not so much.
The insects depicted here are Giant Mesquite Bugs. A few weeks ago I posted a couple of images of the juveniles (5th instar) of these insects. These bugs are adults.
I often say that I find insects to be wonderfully weird. Look closely at almost any insect and you’ll observe appearances and behaviors that are almost totally alien to us. Insects have been around in one form or another for about 300 million years and that’s given them a lot of time in which to evolve unique characteristics.
Mesquite bugs are among the more fascinating insects that I encounter. To begin with, these big (about 1 inch long) bugs have a delightfully strange appearance. Their antennae resemble badminton rackets, they have oddly bulging, almost spherical compound eyes, their mouths look like soda straws, and what’s with the odd patterns of stripes and colors that they sport? But, even more interesting is their behavior. Giant Mesquite Bugs are the cattle of the insect world. Both the young and the adults of this species have a herd instinct. They like to be together. See one of them and you’re likely to see many, generally clustered tightly together, like these bugs, all feeding and mating as a group. Why they’ve evolved this behavior is a good question. I don’t know the answer but I can hazard some possible explanations for these bugs’ herd instinct. Certainly, it’s easier for the boys and girls of this species to find each other if they stay together like this. Group behavior may also provide protection against predators. The larval mesquite bugs supposedly taste horrible and predators avoid them. I suppose that’s true also for the adult bugs. Clustering, as these insects are doing, may advertise to predators that these are mesquite bugs and not worth eating.
Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, supported and stabilized by monopod, M setting, ISO 250, f11 @ 1/200.