The wingless hangingfly

Apterobittacus apterus, California

Apterobittacus apterus, California

I lived in California until a few years ago, and one thing I enjoyed about the Golden State was the unique insect fauna, full of bizarre and relictual creatures.  One of the oddities was the wingless hangingfly, a leggy mecopteran that lurks in the coastal grasslands.

The insect above was photographed indoors.  I made a makeshift studio out of various bits of debris lying around the lab: a matte black notebook for a backdrop, a jar to hold the grass upright, and the white lid to a styrofoam cooler propped a few inches above the insect.  An off-camera strobe fired up at the cooler lid (and away from the hangingfly) provided bright diffuse light and set the soft tone of the image.

photo details: Canon 100mm macro lens on a Canon EOS D60

ISO 100, f/11, 1/200 sec, indirect strobe


  1. #1 James C. Trager
    December 13, 2008

    “full of bizarre and relictual creatures.”

    However, while there is a fair bit of endemism among the Californian ants, none among them stands out to me as particularly bizarre or relictual. Well, maybe Pyramica or, if native, Rogeria.

  2. #2 myrmecos
    December 13, 2008

    Yeah, California’s ants are relatively normal.

    But other insect groups have plenty of oddities in the state. Lepidotrichion silverfish come to mind, as do the Grylloblattid rock-crawlers and the Amphizoid trout-stream beetles.

  3. #3 Beetles In The Bush
    December 13, 2008

    The buprestids and cerambycids sure have a lot of endemics – many genera with representatives nowhere else. I sure miss collecting in California!

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