I fear no weevil…
April 12, 2012 29 Comments
…especially when they are as colorful as these! I found this mating pair ~60 km south of Corrientes, Argentina feeding on flowers of what I presume to be the goldenrod species Solidago chilensis (family Asteraceae). Here, as in North America, goldenrod blooms in profusion along the roadsides during late summer and fall wherever moisture is to be found, and also as in North America goldenrod here is an insect magnet. During my week exploring Corrientes and Chaco Provinces, I learned to stop whenever I spotted a stand of the distinctive yellow blossoms. I found several stands and was treated to a variety of beetles, flies, and other insects that I’ll show over the coming days, with these being among the most striking that I found.
Weevils themselves may not be anything to be afraid of; however, their taxonomy is downright terrifying (and this coming from a beetle man!). With more than 40,000 described species worldwide (and who knows how many still awaiting description), the family Curculionidae (“true” weevils) may be the largest in the animal kingdom. I don’t know why, given the distinctive and striking coloration of these individuals, but I punted early and asked my friend Henry Hespenheide (a buprestid man, but knows a thing or two about weevils) if he knew what these were. Henry must have also been scared, because he went straight to the top and forwarded the photos to weevil heavy-hitters Charles O’Brien and Jens Prena, both of whom quickly replied back with an ID of Megadaris quadriguttatus (Klug, 1829). The state of weevil bionomics seems to be as incomplete as their taxonomy, as I was unable to find even the most basic information about the distribution and biology of this species (keep in mind I’m in Argentina right now with no access to libraries). As far as I can tell this is a strictly Neotropical genus.
Of course, had I checked Curculionidae de Argentina I might have noticed the photo of this species right there on the front page. Fear does strange things to one’s confidence.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012