There’s just a slim chance you’ve seen this slender insect, even though it’s fairly common. True bugs in the Berytidae family have a lanky look that has led to the common names “stilt bug” and “thread bug.” I think the knob at the end of the last antennae segment enhances the effect. 

All true bugs have a pointy apparatus tucked under their heads and thorax that’s used for eating. Most stilt bugs use their rostrum for piercing and sucking plant juices, but some (maybe most? As usual more research is needed) also eat “meat,” such as mites, aphids or caterpillars. One study found Berytidae produce more eggs when they feed on other insects than when they have a plant-based diet. 

BugGuide identified this species as Neoneides muticus, which are found across the U.S. There’s thin information about this genus, other than the fact there’s only one species in Neoneides!

If you Google them, you’ll see that stilt bugs generate yin / yang feelings. On the one hand, they can be effective pest controls for things like tobacco hornworms; on the other hand, they themselves can be pests in tomato greenhouses.  

Stilt bugs live as adults through the winter, so be on the lookout for these lean machines in the coming months. One source I found says they overwinter in rosettes of common mullein, so there’s a place to start searching.

Stay curious!

See more of Karen’s work here.


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