Posts Tagged ‘beetle’


Tumbling flower beetle found in the prairie area at Parkland College, Champaign, IL. Click/double click image to enlarge.

One of my major photography challenges has been capturing a reasonably good image of a tumbling flower beetle. This laterally compressed, wedge-shaped family of beetles seem to always move on their sides, rarely standing upright.

Adults can be found throughout the summer, feeding on pollen and other plant products they encounter. They quickly tumble off flowers when disturbed. Larvae feed on plant stems, fungi, and decaying wood.

My field guides aren’t helping me identify species of this individual. I’ll have to delve more deeply when I’m back in my lab.

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This individual was one of the practice organisms in “The Toy Room,” one of the many highlights of BugShot 2012, Archbold Biological Station, Venus, FL. Click image to enlarge.

You have to admit this huge beetle looks like something from The Far Side. Click image to enlarge.

Thanks to Ted MacRae, who writes a spectacular blog called Beetles in the Bush, for correct identification of this individual!

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The black light set-ups were great for observing species diversity, as well as mating of numerous species. Rove beetles were present in particularly large numbers. Click/double click to enlarge.

Last night I stopped in during the “Night Bugs” program at the University of Illinois Pollinatarium. Staff and an array of volunteers set up three sheets with blacklights.

Microscopes were available for those who wanted to look more closely at insects of interest. Several entomologists were on hand to  help with identification and answer questions.

It was certainly a very nice, informative, congenial way to spend a few hours during a summer evening!

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Pollinating soldier beetle (Chaulignathus marginatus). Click image to enlarge.

Chaulignathus marginatus is one of the nineteen species of Chaulignathus that are valuable pollinators and biological control agents.

This particularly attractive species feeds freely on plant species, including daylilies, throughout east central Illinois during spring and early summer.

Other frequently encountered soldier beetles include Chaliognathis pennsylvanicus, Ancistronycha bilineata, and Trypherus latipennis.

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The most apparent prey of the day during last week's morning trip to Kickapoo State Park. Click image to enlarge.

Clearly the two most abundant species I encountered during last week’s morning at Kickapoo State Park were the six-spotted tiger beetles and miniscule wolf spider spiderlings. The spiderlings were feeding on minute, barely visible flies, while the six-spotted tiger beetles were feeding just as aggressively  on the minute spiderlings. It was like one giant buffet.

Six spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata) with wolf spiderling (Hogna sp.) prey. Click image to magnify.

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Six-spotted tiger beetles (Cicindela sexguttata) are characterized by a bright metallic green or blue-green head, thorax and abdomen. The common name can be misleading. The number of spots actually ranges from none to eight. Double click image to see the fine sculpting of this individual's head, thorax and abdomen.

Our record setting week of temperatures in the low- to mid-80s has led to an early abundance of six spotted tiger beetles (Cicindela sexguttata) along the floor of local wooded areas. These voracious, extraordinarily quick predators hunt a wide variety of insect prey that they encounter on sunny trails and along deciduous woodland edges.

Local individuals can find an abundance of these beetles along the boardwalk at Busey Woods in Urbana, IL. Be sure to get out soon if you’d like to see them. In another week or two the developing plants, combined with the beetle’s extraordinary ability to blend with foliage, will make finding these beetles much more challenging.

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Note the fused elytra of this flightless beetle. Click image to enlarge.

These green-bordered, flightless beetles are found in southeastern Arizona and throughout Mexico.

Though generalist feeders, a significant portion of their diet is made up of caterpillars.

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Male wedge-shaped beetle, distinguished by its antlerlike antennae, feeding on a shasta daisy. Click to magnify.

These parasitic beetles are found on flowers, where the females lay their eggs. Each hatching larva climbs aboard a female solitary bee, who transports it back to her nest. Once in the nest, the beetle larva feeds externally upon an individual bee larva. Emerging adult wedge-shaped beetles live only a few days, moving immediately to composite flowers, where mating occurs.

If you double-click on the image you will see that the individual flower stigmas (look like yellow double-sided shepherd’s crooks) are covered with yellow pollen grains.

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Male red milkweed beetles are often smaller than the females. Click image to enlarge.

These long-horned beetles are unique in several ways. Each compound eye is bisected by an antennae, forming a dorsal and ventral compound eye next to each antenna. In fact, their species name literally means “four eyes.”

Red milkweed beetles are one of the few insect species that can safely feed on milkweed (Asclepias). These beetles sequester the milkweed’s toxic chemicals (glycosides), incorporating them into their body tissues. They advertise their resulting toxicity with their distinct red and black coloration.

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Male big dipper firefly attempts to mate with coupled pair (July 8, 2011, Urbana, IL). Click image to magnify.

We’ve experienced the nightly show of millions of fireflies in our yard and the surrounding fields over the past month. The numbers appear to be reaching its seasonal peak.

Mating pairs are swarmed by males eagerly in search of females. The males will couple with any part of the mating pair in their pheromone-induced mating frenzy.

A unique mating deception (described at Six Months Ago: An Abundance of Fireflies) occurs in this species.

Big dipper fireflies get their name from the dipping flight of the males as they flash, advertising their availability. The light is brightest as they dip and fades as they ascend.

Larvae of this species feed on earthworm.

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