insects from Montana desert
September 21, 2009
These are all from roughly the same location in a high-altitude desert in southern Montana. Someone suggested that the first is an antlion larva, even though it doesn’t look like any antlion pictures I’ve found so far. The second looks almost more like a crustacean than an insect, given the lack of wings and the antenna position. The third looks similar to a damselfly.
south central montana

Mystery Creature

Jumping Bristletail

Dear Mark,
Your Solpugid and Robber Fly are well represented on our site, but the creature that you believe looks like a Crustacean is a real mystery.  We also believe it looks crustacean-like.  Its presence on land makes it doubtful that it is a crustacean.  We would lean toward an Arachnid, but it really has us baffled.  The clarity of the image is somewhat problematic, as is the texture and tonality of the background which seems to obliterate some of the anatomical details.  It also appears like some body parts might be missing.  We will post your letter and image in the hopes that one of our readers can provide an answer.  Meanwhile, could you provide any additional information regarding the conditions under which it was found and the size?

Eric Eaton identifies Montana Mystery
Yes, the “Montana Mystery” is a “jumping bristletail,” order Microcoryphia.  They are very, very primitive insects.  This specimen is missing most (maybe all) its caudal (tail) filaments.

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