Big Legged Bug getting minerals from Skink feces

Subject: Wheel bugs enjoying skink poo
Location: Southern, Maryland
August 2, 2017 7:25 pm
Hi, I thought I’d share this. If you’re eating your lunch, you may want to skip this one… It’s not so much a WTB (I know what they are) as it is a What’s That Bug Doing?! (WTBD). There’s a healthy population of Five Lined Skinks living in and around my front steps. They like to sit out on the stones and sunbathe and munch on insects that crawl by. They also tend to drop little skink poops where they sunbathe. For the last 2 days, I’ve noticed 2 wheel bugs who’ve become enamored with the skink poop and have decided that it would make a tasty snack. They crawl all over it and use their proboscises to poke the poop. They must be getting some nutritional value out of it because they’ve been doing it for 2 days in a row. I can’t imagine they’re doing it for the taste! 🙂 If the skinks see them, they may end up being lunch themselves and then the old adage: you are what you eat may be proven true.
Signature: JS

Big Legged Bugs, adult on left, nymph on right, take minerals from Skink feces

7:29 pm
yep, I sent that.  I’ve enjoyed your site over the years and wanted to
share these pics of the wheel bugs dining on skink poo. I’m pretty
sure the smaller one is a juvenile.

Big Legged Bugs take minerals and fluids from Skink feces

8:03 pm
Upon close examination, it may not be a wheel bug.  It looks kinda
like one without the “wheel” so maybe its a WTB after all!  Maybe the
“wheel” comes after a later molt?

Hi Joe,
Thank you for the nice submission that we are quite certain will entertain our readership.  Your final addition is correct.  These are Big Legged Bugs in the genus
Acanthocephala, and judging by the orange terminal segments on the antennae and your location, we are quite certain it is Acanthocephala terminalis.  You may verify this on BugGuide.  You are also correct that a Wheel Bug does not acquire its cog-like crest until after its final molt, so immature Wheel Bugs have no crests.  Some male butterflies puddle on urine or manure or even putrefying flesh to acquire minerals and fluids, and we suspect the same is true of these Big Legged Bugs.

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