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Myrmecoris gracilis

Myrmecoris gracilis
Photo Information
Copyright: Dietrich Meyer (meyerd) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 585 W: 64 N: 2238] (7531)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-07-15
Categories: Insects
Camera: Konika Minolta Dynax 7D, Minolta AF 100 Macro & Kenko tube
Exposure: f/19, 1/125 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes (Fill) Flash: Yes
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Heteroptera of Europe+Turkey-1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-09-26 3:27
Viewed: 4655
Points: 36
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Lesser known residents of my backyard:

It was an exciting discovery to me . Ever since I had bought the book on bugs I was hoping to find those small Ant imitating bugs. Finally I detected some larvae in my own backyard! The picture shows a 4 mm long Ant mimic bug (Heteroptera; Miridae; Myrmecoris gracilis (R. Sahlberg, 1848); Ameisenwanze). It is patrolling in an Aphid colony on Galea and sucking out a freshly hatched Neuropteran larva. It's a "first" on TN. A second picture can be found in the WS section.

What is the masquerade of this bug all about? Ants are known to protect aphids from predators like Coccinellid larvae or adults and from Syrphid larvae; by tickling the aphids with their antennae the ants get their reward for patrolling in the form of sugary droplets. Ants are in turn protected from predators through formic acid release. They signal to potential predators the fact of being an ant with the typical body shape. From what I saw the Ant-like bug royally ignores the rules of politeness in the Aphid-predator-Ant system and eats aphids and their predators alike: the ant costume makes it a "Wolf in sheepskin".

ID: First you have a hard time to distinguish the bug from ants (that might be the reason Linné did'nt describe them). Then I had to go by the pictures in the excellent book of E. Wachmann et al. 2004. Wanzen Bd. 2. Goecke& Evers, Keltern D. There is no other similar bug species in Europe. The adults are apterous like the larvae. The species is found in Middle and Northern Europe and East to Siberia and Korea. In the Alps it is found up to 2'000 m a.s.l. There is one generation per year. Eggs are deposited inside old grass stems where they overwinter.

cicindela, zulfu, Chiza, marianas, CatherineD, Ishi, anel, Argus, sandpiper2, Luis52, boreocypriensis, bahadir, peter_stoeckl, Nephrotome2, uleko, eleana has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To cicindela: Chrysoperlameyerd 1 09-26 05:38
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2009-09-26 3:48]

Hello Dietrich, superb close-up shot of this unique insect with nice composition.
TFS and G's,

Excellent presentation Dietrich! This "wolf in sheepskin" is a really interesting species according to your note. And moreover, it was presented in perfect way (only 4mm!!!). Bravo! As always from your presentations I learned something and thank you for that! And now it is time to look for this creature in my region! :>
Greetings from Lodz,

ps. after sending a comment I saw that the bug has a pry, do you think that this is some Neuroptera larvae? Mandibules of prey looks a little like in Chrysoperla species :)

  • Great 
  • Chiza Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 133 W: 0 N: 474] (5351)
  • [2009-09-26 6:26]

Hola Dietrich, un magnífico macro que muestra todos los detalles de esta especie que por suerte es pequeña, hasta da un poco de temor el ver semejante insecto que intimida y el momento captado con su presa es excelente...saludos.

hello Dietrich
very nice to see a strange insect on TN
very good to find this one
great sharpness with good details and beautiful colours
greeting lou

What a great macro,lovely details and colors.

  • Great 
  • Ishi Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 298 W: 21 N: 1943] (13387)
  • [2009-09-26 9:59]

Hi Dietrich,

Excellent action shot. Quite frightening. A real micro-monster...



Hello Dietrich,
Very impressive discovery in your garden. I didn't know that such ant-like bugs exist. Excellent capture, with sharp details on its behavior. The WS is very good too (maybe I prefer it because we can see the environement). Congratulations for this first on TN,

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2009-09-26 10:12]

Lieber Dieter,
Bei Deinen Bildern kann manm immer lernen..und hier bringst Du eine gar unbekannte Kreatur, von der ich nicht einmal wusste, dass sie existiert. Super fotografiert, wenn man denkt, wie klein diese Ameisenwanze ist. Und die kleine Blattlaus ist ja auch noch scharf dargestellt. Auch gut ist das Bild im WS. Gratuliere zu diesem höchst interessanten Posting.
Herzlich grüsst und wünscht einen schönen Abend

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2009-09-26 22:55]

Hello Dietrich,
This is great!
A superb contribution showing and describing this ant mimic that I have never seen before, as well as most on TN. The quality of both the macros is top class, considering the small size of this bug.
Congratulations both for this'first' and the presentation.
My best wishes to you,

Interesante acercamiento Dietrich, pero a mi entender algo excesivo y el excelente enfoque conseguido se pierde un poco.
Saludos y buen Domingo: Josep Ignasi.

Hi Dietrich

Great shot and an amazing story frm your backyard. I think you must have enough material for a novel from your backyard :)
Good composition of this action shot. Good sharpness and DOF.


  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2009-09-28 14:24]

Hola Dietrich.
Excellent super Macro of this popular insect. I guess they are in every place in the world, and I dont have a photo of them, but I will try soon.
Lot of fine details in his body thanks to the sharpness, anf of course the great ability of the photographer.
Many thanks for the honor to be in Your favorites. I realy appreciate that.
Saludos from Mexico.

Hi Dietrich,

Superb macro capture of this ant mimic bug from nice POV with immaculate sharpness, details and fine composition.
TFS and cheers,


Hi Dietrich
Perfect macro! You absolutely expert!
TFS and regards,

Ciao Dietrich, superb macro with amazing details, fantastic DOF, beautiful natural colors and splendid sharpness, very well done, ciao Silvio

Lieber Dieter,
diese Dokumentation ist sensationell. Von dieser Wanze und ihrem raffinierten Täuschungsmanöver lese ich zum ersten Mal, und wahrscheinlich hab' ich sie bisher einfach übersehen. Dass Wanzen sich nicht wie üblich auf ihren üblen Geschmack verlassen, sondern zu solch raffinierter Tarnung greifen, ist eine spannende Geschichte zur Evolution der Signale.
Exzellent kommentierte Beiträge wie dieser zählen zu den raren Highlights auf TN, deretwegen es sich einfach lohnt, die oft kunterbunten Einsendungen regelmässig zu durchsuchen. Danke!
Mit herzlichen Grüßen,

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2009-10-07 6:25]

Hello Dietrich,
You do find some interesting subjects in your garden and also your camera is fantastic!! How fascinating to find this Ant imitating small bug. A brilliant capture showing it with an Aphid in a fine composition. Great details and beautiful light and colours too.
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

  • Great 
  • eleana Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 206 W: 80 N: 75] (2247)
  • [2009-10-17 11:41]

Hello Dietrich,
incredible close-up! I'm happy that these insects are so small :)
I like how your optics works on such a short distance. Very well captured details.
All my best,

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