Leaf-footed Bug Egg

One day in south central Florida, Julia and I were walking along a trail through a hardwood hammock when I spotted a beautiful leaf-footed bug (Coreidae) egg.  While I was admiring it, I heard a loud buzz overhead, and I looked up to see a large leaf-footed bug alight several feet above us.  Julia managed this shot of it with the 20x (or so) optical zoom on her little point-and-shoot:

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The photo was good enough to identify it as Acanthocephala declivis, a decidedly southeastern species.  I thought it was reasonably likely that the egg belonged to the same species–it certainly looked like an Acanthocephala egg.

It was getting late and we had lots of exploring to do, so rather than take the time to assemble my macro setup, I collected the egg and photographed it in the tent that night.

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The next night, the bug had developed (or the eggshell had cleared) sufficiently that what had seemed like fancy decorative markings on the egg could now clearly be seen as body parts of the nymph developing inside.

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This top view shows the antennae stuffed into the apex of the egg (it’s difficult to capture in a two-dimensional photograph, but Acanthocephala eggs are vaguely triangular in cross-section).

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I was going to try and get a shot every day until it hatched, but things got too busy.  Four days later, the egg was next in line to be photographed after a recently emerged leaf-mining moth, and when I grabbed the vial I discovered that I had just missed seeing the bug hatch.

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I’ve always been puzzled why the circular lid that a hatching leaf-footed bug pops off its egg doesn’t correspond with what seems to be a nice ring of perforations at the anterior end of the egg.  True bugs don’t have chewing mouthparts, so they just have to push their way out.

In any case, this bug was another impressive contortionist.

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About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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7 Responses to Leaf-footed Bug Egg

  1. Nancy Lowe says:

    Wow, so cool. Thanks!

  2. troymullens says:

    Great post. Another jewel of nature.

  3. Kathie Fiveash says:

    I loved this post, and followed all the links, esp the contortionist link was fascinating. Thanks!

  4. Your egg and nymph images are amazing! May I ask, what was your equipment setup to make them?

  5. Tracy says:

    I love this series of pictures and the informative commentary you provide with them! Such fun to see and read! Thank you!

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