Yesterday afternoon the high temperature reached 85°F/29°C. I spent the day in shorts and a t-shirt. Though this kind of weather does little to evoke the holiday spirit, it does bring out critters who take advantage of the warmth. And though I’m hardly in a position to meander far from home right now, I do enjoy the show this urban wildlife refuge brings right to my doorstep.
The plethora of flying and crawling arthropods shared all that sunshine with lizards and birds galore. So much activity from the denizens of warmer times, all of it happening as we speed headlong toward the end of the year. But it served to remind me of a true summer day, the air abuzz and the ground skittering. So I wandered through my photo collection to see what patio visitors I had yet to share.
Taken in early summer of 2008, on a day not too unlike yesterday, these photos show what at the time struck me as an unusual example of its kind. Sure, it’s a leaf-footed bug, but it’s not a little tank like so many of its cousins.
I first spied this unhurried creature as it lumbered along the patio fence. I gave chase, clicking away as I’m wont to do, all the while wondering about the ID of this little visitor. It sure looked like a leaf-footed bug, femoral shape looking all too familiar in that regard, yet I’d never seen one that wasn’t all dark and broody and armored-like.
At first glance I failed to find a name. I then set the images aside—always a big mistake!—and soon they became lost in the growing collection that I never get on top of. Then in early October of this year I came across them and decided I’d do a little more digging. But Ted saved me the work with his timely post on the same species. So after confirming his lead based on our differing locations, I had the name without even trying: Merocoris distinctus. I thought distinctus was quite appropriate.
As I chased the poor thing with the lens all up in its business, it meandered by a dry bit of bird poop. At that point I had to stop and laugh since it would certainly look to the outside observer that I was indeed photographing bird droppings, especially given the bug’s small size and camouflage colors against the fence.