Posts Tagged ‘beetles’

This week was warm enough to go insect hunting in the yard, so the Friday beetle is back with new material.  I snapped a few shots of this little staphylinid under a brick, figuring I’d identify it later.

That turned out to be a more complicated process than I’d anticipated. (more…)

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Ostoma pippingskoeldi, Sierra Nevada, California

If you peel back the bark of an old stump in the forests of western North America, there’s a good chance you’ll find some of these attractive tank-like insects. This is Ostoma pippingskoeldi, a predatory beetle in the family Trogossitidae. They lurk about under bark searching for soft-bodied prey, including the larvae of other beetles.

All legs and antennae tucked safely away.

Photo details (top): Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS D60
ISO 100, f13, 1/200 sec, diffused flash
(bottom): Nikon coolpix 995, ambient light

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We here at Myrmecos Blog don’t care to voice our opinion of talk show host Glenn Beck. But we are rather enamored of dung beetles, those gorgeously ornamented insects who prevent the world from being buried in feces.

Thus, we were pleased to find the following Facebook project in our inbox this weekend:

Can This Dung Beetle Get More Fans Than Glenn Beck?

If you’re on facebook, and you like dung beetles, now’s your chance to become a fan.

h/t Jesse.

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A male western hercules beetle, Arizona.

Meet Dynastes granti. This behemouth of an insect is North America’s heaviest scarab beetle, found in the mountains of the American southwest where adults feed on the sap of ash trees. I photographed these spectacular insects a few years ago while living in Tucson.

The impressive pronotal horn on the beetle pictured above indicates a male; females are considerably more modest in their armaments:

Male and female hercules beetles

As is so often the case in animals, males use their horns to fight each other for access to females, attempting to pry their opponents off the branches.  Size is important, and it varies notably among individuals depending on how well they fed as developing larvae:

Size variation among male hercules beetles. My money is on the guy on the right.

The three beetles pictured here lived in our house for a while as pets; they were good-natured insects and would sit happily on our fingers eating maple syrup.

Photo details: Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D.
ISO 400, f3.0-f5.0, 1/50-1/125 sec, ambient light at dusk

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Female (left) and male Sandalus niger Cicada Parasite Beetles

Sandalus niger is one of the oddest beetles in eastern North America.  While most parasitic insects are concentrated in other orders- notably Hymenoptera and Diptera- Coleoptera contains relatively few parasites.  But there are a few.

Beetle larvae in the small polyphagan family Rhipiceridae attack cicada nymphs in their underground burrows.  Our local species is Sandalus niger, and in the past week the spectacular inch-long adults have been gathering in mating aggregations on tree trunks around campus.


the remarkable antennae of the Sandalus male


The antennae of the female are much less developed

Photo details (top): Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 250, f/11, 1/160 sec, indirect strobe in white box

(middle): Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/80 sec, diffuse ambient light with moderate flash backlighting

(bottom): Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f/13, 1/160 sec, flash diffused through tracing paper

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Scarites sp. Ground Beetle (Carabidae)
Urbana, Illinois

As the summer bug season freezes to a close here in Illinois, our attention turns increasingly to the cryptic habitats where insects settle in to overwinter.  The flowers have faded, but insects can still be found under tree bark, in rotting wood, and in leaf litter.  This ground beetle had burrowed under a stone, aided by its shovel-like fossorial forelegs.

Photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f/11, 1/200 sec, flash diffused through tracing paper

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Alaus1Alaus oculatus (Elateridae) – The Eyed Elater

One of North America’s largest beetles, the eyed elater is more than an inch long.  Alaus oculatus is widespread in the deciduous forests of eastern North America where their larvae are predators of wood-boring beetles.  Other species of Alaus occur in the south and west.  This individual was attracted to a pheromone trap intended to bring in longhorn beetles as part of a University of Illinois study on beetle pheromones, a ready demonstration of how predators may exploit the chemical signaling of their prey.

This particular beetle has been around the block already, apparently. Many of the hairs have worn off and both antennae are missing segments. Still, a striking insect.


photo details: Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f/11, 1/160 sec (top) 1/125 sec (bottom), indirect strobe in a white box

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Astylus atromaculatus (Melyridae), Argentina

Astylus atromaculatus (Melyridae), Argentina

The spotted maize beetle Astylus atromaculatus is native to subtropical South America but has spread to warm regions in other parts of the world.  In late summer, adults congregate on flowers to mate and feed on pollen.


photo details (all photos): Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D
ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/11-f13, flash diffused through tracing paper

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Scaphinotus petersi – Snail-Eating Ground Beetle

Ground beetles- the family Carabidae- are a spectacular evolutionary radiation of terrestrial predators. The elegant, flightless beetles of the genus Scaphinotus prefer snails and slugs.

photo details. TOP PHOTO. Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/18, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
inside a white box studio, illuminated with indirect flash
BOTTOM PHOTO. Canon MPE-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/13, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
Twin Flash diffused through tracing paper.

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Dineutes sublineatus – whirligig beetle
Arizona, USA

Whirligigs are masters of the thin interface between air and water, predating on animals caught in the surface tension.   In the field it can be hard to appreciate the finely sculptured details of their bodies, the erratic movements that give them their name also make them hard to observe and to catch.

photo details: Canon 100mm f2.8  macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/18, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
Beetles in a 5-gallon  aquarium with a colored posterboard for backdrop.
Off-camera flash bounced off white paper.
Levels adjusted in Photoshop.

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