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minute moss bug - Ceratocombus vagans

minute moss bug - Ceratocombus vagans
Windham, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, USA
December 2, 2006
Size: about 1.25 mm
Found three of these minute bugs so far by straining hand-shredded moss samples I had collected in a large bag. I don't recall ever seeing true bugs with such bristly antennae. Here the bug is posed atop an "island" (a black plastic vial cap) in a 1/4-inch-deep "pond" on the bottom of a clear, plastic deli container inside my light arena. I don't know whether this is a flightless species or a nymph or both.

Images of this individual: tag all
minute moss bug - Ceratocombus vagans minute moss bug - Ceratocombus vagans minute moss bug - Ceratocombus vagans minute moss bug - Ceratocombus vagans minute moss bug - Ceratocombus vagans

Moved from Ceratocombus.

Ceratocombus vagans
According to Stephen A. Marshall in Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity, Ceratocombus vagans is the only northeastern member of this family. I note that the UNH New Hampshire checklist has two entries: Ceratocombus vagans and Ceratocombus sp. (Obviously at least one specimen stood out from the pack.)

Moved from True Bugs.

interesting find!
Dear Jim,

in any case, you photographed a new family for bugguide!

Because the bugs are translucent, but have fairly large wingsheats, they can be judged as late instar nymphs.

Characters visible in this stage do not allow for me to decide whether the species belongs in Ceratocombidae, Dipsocoridae or Microphysidae - but on the other hand, combined with size, exclude all other possibilities. It can´t be a mirid, because they overwinter as adult or as egg (this way predominates).

with kind regards, Boris

I'd say you were writing your comment while Don Chandler was posting his :-) Thank you for explaining why this appears to be a late instar nymph and why it can't be a mirid. I'll bet Don has seen a good many of these in his pursuit of pselaphines.

I have.
They are at times common in wet leaf litter by bogs, marshes, and wet depressions in the forest where pselaphines abound. However, unless you use specialized equipment to process the leaf litter, you rarely see them. Of the families Boris listed, only Ceratocombids occur in our area - dipsocorids are indeed similar, but don't occur this far north.

Ceratocombidae: Ceratocombus sp.
An immature Ceratocombus.

Thank you, Don.
A number of new families I've turned up for bugguide appear to be the result of looking where nobody else has looked. At the 2005 Maine Beetle Blitz I did try blowing air through a collection of mosses with a contraption I built specifically for that purpose. I got a few critters but I think most remained in the moss, which did not dry out like I hoped. Maybe if I hooked a ceramic heater up to the blower intake I would have better luck.

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