Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leaf-Footed Bugs

I tend to investigate any time I see animals concentrated in one location. Typically, a cluster of any animals indicates that some interesting activity is underway. I spotted these Leaf-Footed Bugs crowded together on a leaf and decided to see what was going on.

The bugs had found a nice bird dropping and were busily consuming the moist bits. Most animals are not terribly efficient at extracting nutrients from their food. They eat in volume and remove the most easily digested portions. The digestive action works on all of the material passing through, resulting in the discharge of a substance that has been broken into a simpler, more usable form.

It takes energy to digest food and organisms like these bugs need to put all of their energy into growing. Consuming material that has already begun the digestion process makes it easier to access the remaining beneficial elements. Animal droppings are a concentrated high power food source. The competition for this food source can be tremendous.

The bugs definitely detected my presence. The longer I stood over them, the higher their abdomens were raised. Some species of leaf-footed bugs use an offensive odor as a defense mechanism. This posture may have been a prelude to a defensive release.

It was windy while I was taking these pictures and an accidental leaf-camera collision caused the largest of the three bugs to move away. This posture may have been an attempt to blend into the plant stalk, but brown on green didn’t provide much camouflage. The wing like projections on the hind legs are common to many species of leaf-footed bugs.

The broad appearance of the bug changes radically from the side. This flattened shape makes it possible for the bug to squeeze into and through many tight places. Hopefully, I’ll find these guys again when I have more time to stay and observe their activities. I bet they would be an interesting species to watch.


  1. Another of Mother Nature's clean up crew. Fascinating reading once again. :)