On Mt. Diablo today Kierán and I swept the tall grass with stout canvas nets, taking a census of the insects and spiders living there. Besides two skinny male Mantis religiosa, who must’ve matured very fast (they’re typically born here in February, and mature by September, though the males do grow up faster), we found a large grass spider and three interesting plant hoppers.

We think they are in the genus Scolops, probably Scolops californicus. They’ve got a wonderful “nose” or extended frons. Scolops has at least 36 species in North America. These interesting bugs are “dictyopharids,” cousins to the well-known “peanut bugs” of Central and South America. Not a lot of work has been done on dictyopharids in North America since 1946, so here’s another chance for young entomologists to find a niche.

S. californicus feeds on plants, and has strong, spiny hind legs for jumping, like a grasshopper. It can also fly quite well.

Sweeping the grass for a bug census.
Scolops californicus (we think) has strong, spiny rear legs for jumping.
Its elongated “nose” shows it is cousin to the “peanut bug.”

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