A Raisin in the Strobe

flat bug nymph on a leaf

A raisin-like flat bug nymph rests on a leaf; family Aradidae.

The bug is flat. And that is why they call it a flat bug.

I first encountered one of these odd-looking (relative to the true bug world, anyway) creatures at Natural Bridge State Park, when I spotted the very raisin-like individual pictured in the photograph above. I knew it was a nymph (the immature form), but I couldn’t place it. Perhaps, a leaf-footed bug? I tended to find them in good numbers at the park. It didn’t look like a Mirid plant bug. Maybe a squished-by-evolution stink bug? I wasn’t convinced, so it sat unidentified in my files for a while, until last spring when a Flickr contact posted a very familiar looking level-headed bug. Eureka! And it just happened that I had photographed an adult flat bug (seen below) at Clarksburg State Park not too long before that.

I’m not sure if the two are the same species, but they are very similar – which can be a trap for the would-be entomologist looking for an identification. I will say my Flickr contact is from Hungary, and his adult flat bug was very similar in appearance to mine. Maybe it’s a small family. A very peculiar, neat one at that; I particularly like the fuzzy antennae.

From my haggard bug photographer’s perspective, that flat back stands out as the ideal feature. The confounding edges and angles of most bugs make it hard to get a good focus, but a flat surface like our friend’s can slide nicely into the narrow depth of field for total focus (though if you have trouble leveling your camera that can be a whole other challenge).

flat bug adult

A flat bug on the brown wooden slats of a building; likely Aradus Robustus.

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