Apterobittacus apterus  (McLachlan, 1871)

Diagnosis:  This is the only species of Bittacidae in the world that has no wings, nor vestiges of wings.  The male epiandrial lobes rise dorsally to a rounded point.  Male cerci are short, only about half as long as basistyles.

Distribution – Geographical: 
This species is found in the coastal hills and part of the Central Valley of California (Penny, 2006) from Mendocino County in the north to San Benito County in the south.

Distribution – Temporal: 
Adults of this species emerge from late March until early June with a peak coming in early May.

This species inhabits the grassy hillsides of coastl California where abundant wild oats can be found growing following the winter rains.  They can be found in full sunlight, although often are found in the shade of bushes or isolated oak trees.  They climb quite actively from one grass stem to another in search of prey.

The mature larva has been described by Applegarth (1939).  Unlike eastern species, Apterobittacus apterus and Bittacus chlorostigma go through a long egg aestivation period during the long, dry California summer.  Eggs are covered by a rugose, pink coating, apparently to prevent desiccation.  After several months, the egg will absorb water and swell to twice its original size, cracking open the coating in the process.  The larva appears to develop during the late fall and winter months.

The name Apterobittacus apterus obviously refers to its lack of wings. 


Applegarth, A.G
. 1939. The larva of Apterobittacus apterus MacLachlan (Mecoptera: Panorpidae).Microentomology, 4:109-120.


McLachlan, R. 1871. Bittacus apterus nov.sp. Entomologist's monthly Magazine, 8:100-102


Penny, N.D..  2006.  A Review of our knowledge of California Mecoptera.  Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences  Ser. 4, 57(9):365-372, 4 figs., 3 maps.




A Bibliography of Mecoptera


A World Catalog of Mecoptera

The Mecoptera of Taiwan

The Mecoptera of North America


The Mecoptera of Chile


The Mecoptera of Mexico (in progress)


The Mecoptera of Gaoligongshan, Yunnan, China (in progress)


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