Half the time when I set out with the intention of going for a walk on the beach I end up getting so sidetracked by things I find in the sand dunes that I never actually make it down to the ocean. Yesterday was an example. On the more run-down and rickety of our two boardwalks I paused to try to get a photo of a butterfly (one of the cloudywing skippers) on one of the enormous thistle plants that are all over the place down there. (They are truly massive, and I’m pretty sure they’re non-native, and they seemed to go directly from bud to blowsy seedhead with no showy thistle flower in between. Boo. But apparently insects like them!) Unfortunately the butterfly took off before I could snap a picture, but from my crouched position I noticed a second large insect on the plant.
I believe this is a Florida Leaf-footed Bug, Acanthocephala femorata. I posted the photo on BugGuide to see if anyone had any insight into those red specks it’s covered with, and someone suggested that they’re ectoparasitic mites or mite larvae. Ew.
Anyway, see those out-of-focus red blobs in the foreground?
Why hello, leaf-footed bug nymphs! There were a number of these around; apparently it’s normal for young nymphs to remain with their siblings for a while. Of course, it’s probably pure whimsy on my part to imagine that the mite-afflicted adult is actually their mother, but it’s possible, right? So happy Mother’s Day, Florida Leaf-footed Bug.
(I realized while writing this that almost a year ago I wrote another post about a leaf-footed bug and a butterfly, and while in that one I actually did get a photo of the butterfly, I called it a hairstreak when it was actually an azure and misidentified the leaf-footed bug as a stink bug. My goodness, blogging has definitely improved my insect-ID skills if nothing else! A year ago I didn’t even know what a skipper was!)