Protenor plant bug
Our last specimen from the August 23, 2012 orgy of sweep-netting is this slender brown bug (photographed while it was standing on my knuckle).
It’s a dead ringer for Protenor belfragei, a very common brown bug that doesn’t seem to have drawn enough attention from the general population to get called by a common name.
These are plant-feeding bugs that mainly suck the juices out of grasses and sedges. And it’s yet another case where, if a grass-eating insect doesn’t either form into all-devouring hordes or make dead spots in the lawn, the general feeling is that they are welcome to eat the grass if they want. And nobody pays much attention to them.
They’re considered a type of “Broad-Headed Bug” in the family Alydidae, even though they’ve got much narrower heads than their relatives.
And here’s a shot that shows the wing veins better, even though I didn’t really have to use the wing venation for the ID.
So, these apparently overwinter as everything from eggs all the way through adults, so you are likely to find them anytime the grass is growing. But you most likely won’t see them without a sweep-net, because they really do look an awful lot like a grass seed.
 And the reason they are welcome to the grass if they want is that there is just so much of it (and except for grain crops, we mostly don’t eat it directly). Somewhat surprisingly (to me, at least), this is a relatively recent state of affairs. The earliest grasses didn’t evolve until about 80 million years ago, which is just a few million years before the dinosaurs died off. This is pretty late in the scheme of things, considering that the first insects evolved 400 million years ago, so there has only been grass for about 20% of the time that there has been insects. And the grasses didn’t start becoming the dominant form of terrestrial plant life until a mere 20 million years ago. Our modern world, dominated by grasslands as it is, is really very different from the way things used to be. And it looks like humans pretty much evolved along with grasslands. Our remote ancestors gave up the forests for the grasslands around 5-6 million years ago, only a few million years after the grasses came to dominate much of Africa. We are pretty well adapted for striding across fields of grass, and this is probably why we have such a fondness for open, grassy lawns.