ID Challenge #19

We all have something in common…

Here is a bit of a different ID Challenge—can you identify the beetles represented in the photo, but more importantly can you deduce what all of these beetles have in common (other than the fact that they belong to the same family)? Obviously these are all jewel beetles (family Buprestidae), so we won’t worry about higher classification. Instead, I’ll give 1 pt for each correctly named genus (don’t bother trying to identify species) and a whopping 5 pts for figuring out what it is they have in common. Early bird pts will be given for the latter question only. Please read the full rules if you are not already familiar with them—good luck!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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33 Responses to ID Challenge #19

  1. Brady Richards says:

    I’m going to guess the names in good faith — i.e., I won’t simply list ALL buprestid genera since it doesn’t seem from your post that we’d be docked points for wrong guesses. In that spirit, I think I see:

    Poecilonota — 4 specimens upper row, left
    Actenodes — 2 specimens upper row, middle
    Dicerca — 4 specimens, 2nd row left, plus 1 upper row, right?
    Chrysobothris — 3 specimens (all different spp.?), 2nd row, right
    Agrilus — entire 3rd row, plus 2 left-most and 4 right-most bottom row
    Agrilaxia — 8 specimens in middle, bottom row

    As for the thing these beetles all have in common, I’ll wager all $22,000 that none of them have ever been to my house. Oh, wait — old joke that no one will get. Instead, let me go out on a limb and guess that all of these beetles have been reared, and oh, what the heck, from the same source of wood.

    • Brady Richards says:

      I’d like to make one small change to my guesses above. That single specimen upper row, right… I’m thinking it’s actually a Spectralia instead of Dicerca. The bottom two rows continue to worry me as does the “thing in common”. I’ve come up with several more plausible guesses for that part, but since they are all just that — guesses — I’ll stick with the implausible one I gave last night.

      In honor of this challenge, I visited a log deck today and beat up on the local buprestid population.

    • Pretty good job on the IDs – you get 5 points (the “Agrilaxia” are Agrilus obsoletoguttatus, and the upper right “Dicerca” is Spectralia gracilipes).

      Even if these were reared, they would not all utilize the same source of wood :)

      Total = 5 pts.

  2. Tim Eisele says:

    Well, taking the “what they have in common” first, I’ll take a wild stab and say “They were all collected by other people, and given to you for ID or trade (or maybe just as gifts)”.

    The ones in the top left corner look like genus Dicera to me.

    I’ll guess that the third row (and the first two in the fourth row) are genus Agrilus, and the upper right corner is genus Buprestis.

    And in the spirit of having nothing to lose by guessing, for the rest of the fourth row, I’ll go for genus Aphanisticus, which seem to be small enough.

    Alternative for what they have in common: they were all collected on the 4th of July? Which would be a really good day for an annual insect-collecting trip.

    • You got the Agrilus, and although not the specimens you indicate, I’ll also give you credit for Dicerca.

      Aphanisticus doesn’t make it nearly to Missouri!

      These were all collected in early June :)

      Total = 2 pts

  3. Paul Kaufman says:

    I see Dicerca, Chrysobothris and Agrilus, 10 or 11 species total. These are all Buprestids that the native wasp Cerceris fumipennis brought in to provision their nests and you stole them! They could all be from the same nest, but if so you really hit the jackpot. Wow, what fun!

    • You’ve got three of the six genera shown and the big prize of what they have in common. Two others also got that connection after you, so that’s 2 early bird points for you. I do, however, have to knock a point for not using italics with the genus names :(

      Total = 9 pts

  4. Well, I see Dicerca, Actenodes, Spectralia(?), Chalcophora, Chrysobothris including what looks to be a member of the Chrysobothris femorata species complex, and a whole bunch of Agrilus species!

    Now, what do they all have in common? Other than all being readily identifiable in a soon-to-be-released field guide to Northeastern Jewel Beetles*, I suspect this represents some of your sample from a local Cerceris fumipennis colony! It looks to me like you have a very active colony on hand, and that you’re making the most of it. Great challenge!

    * – Sorry for the unabashed plug for the book! :)

  5. temporum says:

    Are they all wood boring? :D

  6. James C. Trager says:

    I’m guessing these were all gathered by the same species of buprestid hunting sphecoid wasp, but can’t begin to name the genera without a lot of “homework”.

  7. Well, this is not what I was expecting. The genera that I think I recognize are Poecilonota, Dicerca, Agrilaxia, Chrysobothris, and Agrilus. As for what they have in common, there are several things I can think of. They’re probably all from Missouri and it looks like they are all dead, but I’m guessing you’re looking for something else. I’m gonna say that these were all some of the 2,171 pieces of chitin you identified last winter. Or maybe these are all beetles you collected on the 4th of July?

  8. Joshua Basham says:

    Ok here goes from the top left…4 specimens of Poecilonota spp, 2 Actenodes spp, 1 Spectralia gracilipes, 4 Dicerca lurida, 3 Chrysobothris spp atleast two of them belonging to the C. femorata species complex, and 29 Agrilus spp.
    What I believe they all have in common…you harvested them from Cerceris fumipennis adults and/or their burrows.

    • Perfect generic IDs – in addition to the 6 pts that earns, I’m also going to give you a bonus point for being the first person to get all six genera.

      You also get the 5 pts for the Cerceris fumipennis connection.

      Total = 12 pts and the win!

  9. M. Barton says:

    I am so out of my league on these challenges, but I’m going to guess based on your tags that they’re all from Missouri. Beyond that, I have nothing.

  10. Roy says:

    Mostly a big shot in the dark, but here it goes:

    Halecia (first four beetles in the top row)
    Chrysodema (first four beetles in the second row)
    Chrysobothris (last three in the first and second rows respectively)
    Agrilus (last two rows)

    As for what they all have in common, I have no clue. However, I’m guessing that the larvae of the buprestids in question are all hosts of the same order or family of plants.

    • Yes to Chrysobothris and Agrilus, but the others don’t occur in North America.

      Some of these species utilize willow (Salix), some utilize cottonwood (Populus), and some utilize oak (Quercus).

      Total = 2 pts

  11. Bruce Miller says:

    In common… all are dead and are now specimens :-)

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  13. Dennis Haines says:

    Top row left to right are: Poecilonota cyanipes and Chrysobothris spp. The second row are Dicerca lurida and Chrysobothris spp. The third row are a series of Agrilus sp. The bottom row represents several Agrilus spp.

    I believer their commonality lies in the fact that the larvae are found feeding in various Salicaceae (Salix spp. and Populus spp.).

    Hope this gets me a few points.

  14. Harry Zirlin says:

    I think i would have gotten it!

  15. Those who have followed my Facebook and Twitter feeds during the past month know that I have been using the crabronid wasp, Cerceris fumipennis, to survey for jewel beetles (family Buprestidae). The beetles in this photo represent specimens “ground-picked” from a single field on a single date and include (L–R and top to bottom): 4 Poecilonota cyanipes, 2 Actenodes acornis, 1 Spectralia gracilipes, 4 Dicerca lurida, 2 Chrysobothris spp. (femorata-species group), 1 C. sexsignata, 11 Agrilus politus (2 A. quadriguttatus and 2 A. obsoletoguttatus mixed in the series), 2 A. quadriguttatus, 8 A. obsoletoguttatus, and 3 A. politus (w/ a single A. obsoletoguttatus).

    I’ll award points to comments individually based on agreement with the above identifications and whether you figured out the connection to Cerceris fumipennis. Be sure to look for the new post on the subject, which will follow shortly after all comments to this post are addressed.

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