Thin green plant bug – Megaloceroea?

2010 February 27

On July 20, Sam and I took a butterfly net off to try and catch a particularly large black butterfly that we’d been seeing alongside the road[1]. We didn’t find it, but when we got home, we found that we’d accidentally caught this bug in the net without realizing it:

It seemed so content to sit on the insect net that I just tried taking the pictures there. Most of the pictures didn’t come out very well, I only had these two that showed enough detail to be worth looking at.

I’ve seen these, and bugs like them, frequently ever since I was a kid, so they are doubtless pretty common. I had thought it was a damsel bug, which are predatory, but on further examination it looks rather a lot like it is related to Megaloceroea[2] reticornis, one of the “plant bugs”.

I’m not finding much about this species of bug, they evidently aren’t of much economic importance. The best site I’m finding is this one in Britain, which says that they are found in uncut grass (and that is probably what they eat – juices that they suck out of grass). The fact that this is a British site suggests that they are either one of the species that has a native range that runs all the way around the northern temperate zone, or they are an invasive species that got imported from Europe at some point in the past.

One point here is that the nymphs are wingless and always green, while the adults (like this one) have fully-developed wings and can be either green, or brown. I don’t know whether there are two color phases and they are predestined at hatching to be one or the other, or whether they can select either green or brown on their last molt to fit in with whatever environment they are finding themselves in.

I guess there’s not a lot more to say about this bug. They don’t seem to do anything very exciting, or cause much harm[3], and so they mostly get ignored. Kind of sad, in a way. Poor neglected plant bug. Nobody loves them.

[1] Specifically, we’d been seeing these big black butterflies landing on animal droppings alongside the road, drinking the juices out of them. Ugh.

[2] Not to be confused with Megaloceros, an extinct genus of Very Large Deer, including the Irish Elk. That’s the thing with species names – it’s important to make sure that you spell them correctly when doing online searches, or you might end up with something very different from what you expect (and taking the “Did you mean X?” items in Google or Wikipedia too seriously can lead you to strange places). It looks like both the bug genus and the deer genus are named based on the very large things sticking out of their heads (“Megaloceros” means “Great Horn”, and the long antennae on the bugs could be considered to be horns).

[3] I’m noticing a trend, here: insects that eat grass don’t get a lot of attention, unless they either form up into ravening all-devouring hordes (like locusts) or cause dead spots in lawns (like some underground insect larvae). Other than that, the prevailing attitude of most people seems to be that anything that is willing to eat grass is welcome to it.

Comments are closed.