Mt. Washington, Coos County, New Hampshire, USA
June 30, 2007
Size: about 1.1 mm
When Tom Murray and I visited Mt. Washington June 8 in our Forest Service-approved search for Py*tho str*ictus
he reported finding a probable Feather-winged Beetle under the bark of a Balsam Fir log, which is where I found this one and several like it on a return week-long visit.
I have discovered that dead Balsam Fir is quite a species-impoverished under-bark environment as far as arthropods go, although when the bark is quite old, cracked, and loose it becomes a favorite haunt of assorted gro*und beetles. Nevertheless, on the theory that rarely collected species are generally in rarely searched habitats, I take the time to strip the occasional Balsam Fir log and thus was able to repeat Tom's find.
These almost dismissively tiny beetles are no more than almost featureless moving dots without magnification but in sunlight they are easily distinguished from similar-sized spring*tails and predacious mit*es because they move more slowly and the convexity of their elytra and pronotum, and perhaps the reflectivity of their fine decumbant dorsal setae, yields a bright point of light.
The method I used to collect these little guys was to push the downturned edge of my thumbnail along the wet log surface beneath the freshly stripped bark, building a small berm of soggy material, scooping up the teensy beetles as I went. I would then carefully scrape this material off into a pill sorter cubicle, look for more beetles and repeat. Patience is required as these little fellows will stay put for a time before resuming motion. (I defy you to find one while it's stationary.)
I found more ptiliids under spruce bark that I suspect they are the same species. I will post them seperately.
Oh yes, this edge of my rule is marked every half-millimeter.