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Light green, narrow 6 legged bug at 9k ft. in SoCal forest - Timema bartmani - female

Light green, narrow 6 legged bug at 9k ft. in SoCal forest - Timema bartmani - Female
San Jacinto mtns., Riverside County, California, USA
July 18, 2009
Size: 2 " long
I found this little bug up in the forest, it was in a bunch of duff, didn't move too fast.
I'm fairly sure it had 6 legs, and you can see the good size antennae.
Any info on this is appreciated.
Was fortunate to find a Spotted Tussock caterpillar yesterday.



Moved from Timema.

Further update: May 31, 2017
By combing the web, I just learned from a 2017 paper that, beginning in April and May of 2012, a group of Timema researchers surveyed a number of sites nearby to the location of this post (i.e. between Black Mountain/Fuller Ridge and Deer Springs Camp) and found numerous T. bartmani.

Earlier, I had run into two images taken by one of those researchers, Moritz Muschick, which appear at the Flickr links here and here. Both those photos were taken in the month of May, and show what appear to be female nymphs (i.e. pre-adult instars); whereas the photo in the BugGuide post here displays the color pattern of an adult female (which is reasonable, given it was photographed about 2 months later into the season).

That color pattern...with: 1) head brown; and 2) thorax & abdomen green with medial & lateral yellowish-white stripes...corresponds to what's referred to as "morph 2)" of T. bartmani on pg. 935 of Vickery & Sandoval(1997). So it seems yet more likely now that this post is indeed T. bartmani, as Tanja Schwander had guessed earlier.

But note (per Tanja's remarks cited in the "Update" comment below, which are fleshed-out in more detail in Vickery & Sandoval(1997)) that for females alone, T. bartmani and T. tahoe are virtually the same, beyond their geographical separation and an almost negligible larger size in the latter. (For instance, see the T. tahoe images here and here). The much more significant biological difference between the two is that T. tahoe is an entirely female parthenogenetic species, whereas T. bartmani is a sexually reproducing species with both males and females.

Thus, when I initially noticed that Moritz's photos were both females, as is the individual in this post, I wondered whether these San Jacinto Mnts Timema might turn out to be a parthenogenetic population...and thus perhaps be better referred to as T. tahoe than T. bartmani (despite their geographical separation)?

However, I later found the 2017 paper and its supporting documents that indicated hundreds of individuals of T. bartmani were found in their surveys of the San Jacinto Mnts. And I can only presume that if they had all been females, then mention would have been made of the interesting news of a new parthenogenic population of Timema being discovered in the San Jacinto Mnts.

So I think it's safe to assume this is T. bartmani :-)

Hi Aaron,
Thanks for all this info, (I love bug geeks, since I don't have the time or energy to research this)! I'll see if I'm able to find other interest bugs up there, maybe with this great winter snow & rain, the bark beetle won't effect the trees to much now.
Cheers, Scott

I wrote Timema researcher Tanya Schwander at the Université de Lausanne in Switzerland and here are her comments regarding your post:

"My guess would be that it is Timema bartmani (T. tahoe and T. bartmani have essentially the same color morphs). However, from the San Jacinto mtns we do not have any records of either tahoe and bartmani (only podura and chumash , and there are some old records of boharti ). I would love to check out the spot where the pic was taken next spring, do you think it would be possible to get the coordinates of the location?"

Scott, I'm guessing you didn't take a GPS reading of the locale, but if you can remember the rough area, and send me a description, that would be very helpful...and I could relay it to Dr. Schwander. My email can be found here.

size & location
Hi Aaron,
Y do remember the location, it was at the west end of Tamarack campground area, approx. 1/2 mile east of the trail that leads from Wellman's Divide to the peak of San Jacinto.
I'd estimate elevation between 9,200 or 9,500 ft. Temps were warm for the mt., probably in the 70's F.
I remember this little guy being close to 1 1/2 to 2" inches, otherwise, I probably would have had a challenge spotting him, (although I'm fairly observant & he / she is rather bright next to the brown duff.

Haven't got a chance to read the piece you referred to, but looking forward to learning more.


So, from your description above, I'm estimating the locale was near the marker labelled "A" on this map. Is that about right? You can toggle to "Terrain" and "Satellite" mode on the map page if it helps you get a better bearing on things. Thanks, Scott!

That's close Aaron, I place it about where the W in Wilderness is, but it's that general vicinity.


Thanks again, Scott
Your additional comments above are helpful. I hope to get the chance to explore that area for Timema and other things of interest and beauty. And I'll convey the info to Dr. Tanja Schwander.

Length info
Scott, I'm assuming the 2 inch (= 50 mm) length is an after-the-fact estimate. I almost always overestimate in such instances...unless I have something in the photograph that I can measure for reference (e.g. my thumbnail...which I know to be 15 mm :-).

The size range for body length given for adult Timema in the 1993 reference by Vickery is 11-28 mm. But that doesn't include the antennae...that would bring the length closer to 2 inches.

The metadata says
7/18/2009, 12:16:47 PM

Thanks, J & J
I'll update the info in the post.

Very interesting post, Scott
None of the other Timema posts currently on BugGuide (or CalPhotos) has the combination seen here of brown head and legs together with green thorax & abdomen with medial and lateral white stripes.

However, such a coloration pattern is shown for the species T. tahoe in the color figure on Tanja Schwander's web page and in the color photo by Bart Zijlstra on pg. 3 of the PDF here.

But as far as I can tell from the literature, T. tahoe is only known from the Lake Tahoe region, where its host plant is White Fir (Abies concolor).

There's certainly lots of white fir in the San Jacinto Mnts (see here)...but from the literature again, the Timema species recorded from the San Jacinto Mnts are T. podura, T. chumash, or T. boharti. According to Vickery (1993), T. podura and T. boharti are mostly brownish species while T. chumash is usually green, with brownish specimens occuring in small numbers. There is no mention of white stripes for either T. chumash or T. boharti. Stripes in Timema are usually associated with populations that feed on host plants with needle-like leaves.

However, Vickery mentions (on pg. 675) the existence of (anomalous) specimens of T. podura from the Idyllwild area that were green with light medial stripes. Host plants for T. podura include species of Mountain Mahogony (Cercocarpus) and Ceanothus which are both present in the San Jacinto Mnts around 7000 ft elevation. But neither of these have needle-like leaves, and there's a possibility you may have something of significant interest here...e.g. a remarkably disjunct population of T. tahoe, or perhaps something new. (A number of new species of Timema have been discovered during the last two decades.)

If you may have the opportunity see these guys again, it would be great to get more photos...especially dorsal shots of the "tail" (i.e. externally visible terminalia). I can just barely see part of the terminalia in your shot here...enough to tell it's a female. A clear dorsal shot of a male's terminalia would be best, as that allows for the most dependable species ID. Also, Timema has a number of parthenogenetic (= all female, asexually reproducing) species, including T. tahoe. If you were to see a number of females and no males riding on the females backs, that would be a strong indicator that this may be a (possibly new) parthenogenetic species. (A lot more info along these lines can be found here.)

PS: Could you please edit your post to include the date of the sighting? Phenology is important for field studies and research. Thanks!

date of photo
Hi Aron,
Thanks for that thorough info, I know little about most of these insects, but, like you were originally, am very interested in all living things.
The best I can estimate on the date, is July or August of 2009. As you mentioned, there's plenty of White Fir in these mtns., and some mtn. Mahogany too.
If I ever do see another, I'll do my best to get other shots from different angles. The one I spotted was moving quickly in & out of the underlying duff.
BTW, I found another Jerusalem cricket up there a few weeks ago, very cool looking critters.


Date info
The July or August window helps. If it's a digital photo, you may be able to get the exact date by opening it in any photo-editing program and looking at the "info" or "EXIF" data. Also, I'd be interested in more precise location info, if you'd be willing to post that (or email it to me). I explore in the San Jacinto Mnts sometimes, and would look for this Timema while out looking for other insects and plants when in the area.

And I know what you mean about them often not standing still to be photographed. There are certain tricks one can try to get them to stay still, e.g. catch them temporarily in a small container or in hand (they won't hurt you) and keep them still and in the dark for a while. Then, with camera ready, slowly expose them in a semi-sheltered setting. If you're lucky they may stay still for a while...long enough to get some good shots.

Regarding Jerusalem crickets...yes they're fascinating creatures. David Weissman studies them in great detail. Coincidentally, he has also made important collections and contributions for the study of Timema and is one of the coauthors of the paper where one of your other interesting posts was described.


If it is Timema,
it would be Phasmatodea not Orthoptera

Moved from ID Request.

What about Timema?
in the guide here

That looks like the little guy, thanks for the reply, you folks are a big help!


Hi John & Jane, Looks like
Hi John & Jane,

Looks like a similar match (I know little about insects), maybe the genus, although this little one has the brown head & legs.
I think you may have narrowed it into a category.

Thanks for the reply.


looks like a young Stick Insect, Order Phasmatodea
of some kind to me. It kind of reminds me of the Anisomorpha genus, but they're eastern. Let's see what other people think.

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the quick reply, I've never seen this little guy before, look forward to others comments as well.


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