David Element

 

Wildlife Photography and Digital Video Images

___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Bugs 6 - Mirid (Capsid) Bugs

 

 

A picture containing animal, frog, bird, tree

Description automatically generated

 

 

MIRID BUG Heterotoma planicornis 

 

 

A insect on the ground

Description automatically generated

 

 

MIRID BUG Heterotoma planicornis 

 

 

         With its massively swollen second and to a lesser extent first antennal segments the mirid bug Heterotoma planicornis must be one of the most instantly recognisable of British insects once magnified but it is a small and inconspicuous insect that needs to be looked for. Such adaptations (and particularly rather dramatic and potentially cumbersome ones like this) normally have a biological purpose. In this case the massive surface area of the antennae is likely to be associated with the detection of pheromones as there is little likelihood of a purely decorative purpose unless they are involved in signalling to prospective mates, something that would only work if the insects were close enough to be able to see one another. This behaviour may indeed happen although the photographer has not observed it but if so, it might indicate that pheromones are being distributed as well. It would be interesting to view the surface characteristics of one of these antennae under an electron microscope. Magnification of these photographs confirms that the second segments are grooved underneath and covered with tiny hairs, suggesting that the structures are intended to maximise the surface area of these segments.

 

 

 

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David Element