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

More like this

Popillia japonica - Champaign, Illinois The ever colorful Popillia japonica has been in North America for nearly a century.  In spite of an unmistakable charisma, the charms of this unintentional visitor are largely lost among the ruins of chewed up rose bushes, grape vines, and raspberry plants…
It is due in large part to Rettenmeyer's tireless tracking of army ants through all manner of tangled tropical jungle, for months on end, that we know as much as we do about those creatures.  We've lost a real giant of myrmecology.
Heterospilus sp., head & compound eye, Costa Rica Here are some shots from my training session this morning at the Beckman Institute's Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).  I haven't used SEM for years- wow!  Great fun.  Click on each image to enlarge. Heterospilus sp. mesosoma…
I had an assignment this weekend to shoot preserved insects as if in a museum display collection. Dead bugs aren't normally my thing, but there's something to be said about subjects that stay put and allow me to arrange lighting without scurrying off. I pinned the insects in foam-bottomed trays…

"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.

By James C. Trager (not verified) on 13 Dec 2008 #permalink

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.