An Inordinate Fondness #9

Welcome to An Inordinate Fondness, the monthly blog carnival devoted to beetles.  I started this carnival nine months ago, hosting the inaugural issue at the home site before sending it out into the big, wide world.  Seven very capable bloggers have hosted it since, each giving it their own special flavor.  This month, AIF makes its first appearance here at BitB, and even though we have begun to enter the colder months of the year here in North America, blog posts about beetles continue unabated.  Featured here are 14 coleocentric posts that have appeared within the past month – I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.


Adaptation

 

Ever heard of the life/lunch dichotomy?  Greg Laden discusses it in his post Strange insect encounter: Carrion Beetle with Mites at Greg Laden’s Blog.  You might think this heavy load of tiny mites would be a big problem for the carrion beetle that they cover, but in reality the beetle’s life depends upon them.  Read Greg’s post to find out why.

Amber Coakley at Birder’s Lounge presents some great photographs of the white-cloaked tiger beetle (Cicindela togata) in Tiger Beetle at Oklahoma’s Salt Plains NWR.  These are not just any tiger beetle, but among the most halophilic (salt-tolerant) of species in North America.  Read her post, view the desolation, and marvel that these beetles find a way to make a living in the vast salt plains.

Color

No North American beetle collector can call themselves such until they’ve seen Arizona’s stunningly-colored Chrysina scarabs in the wild.  Art Evans at What’s Bugging You? reminisces on his first experience with these beetles while providing a marvelous summary of the different species in REFLECTIONS ON ARIZONA’S JEWEL SCARABS-Part 1.  Once again, the siren call of Arizona beckons me.

Other Arizona beetles are famous not only for their exquisite colors, but also the radical change they undergo after the beetle reaches adulthood.  Find out how this happens in Color-changing Leaf Beetles, by Margarethe Brummermann at Arizona: Beetles Bugs Birds and more.

Mimicry

No, that is not an ant, but a beetle – a tiger beetle to be exact.  Troy Bartlett at Nature Closeups found these beetles in Brazil and discusses how they not only look like ants, but move and behave like them as well in Caraça Tiger Beetles.  Oh, how I would dearly love to see some of these tiger beetles for myself!

Closer to home, Shelly Cox at MObugs presents a timely post on the locust borer, Megacyllene robiniae in Locust Borer.  One of a small number of longhorned beetle species that mimic wasps, Shelly gives a complete summary of the life history and habits of this fall-active species.

Mimicry, of course, is not always of the Batesian type where the mimic is harmless – Mullerian mimics are themselves distasteful to predators but share similar warning coloration and patterns to reinforce that fact to any would-be predators.  In Insect of the week – number 39 at NC State Insect Museum, the net-winged beetle Dictyoptera aurora is featured as an example of such.  Find out its taxonomic history, natural history, habitat, distribution, and the diagnostic characters needed to distinguish this species from other net-winged beetles.

Fauna

Flower chafers of the scarab genus Euphoria are among the most colorful species in the family, and Arizona has more than its share of them as Margarethe Brummermann shows in The Euphoria species of Arizona, USA at Arizona: Beetles Bugs Birds and more.  I thought I had done a pretty good job of finding these beetles during past visits to Arizona, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that there are ten species there (I have only encountered four).  Margarethe’s post has plenty of info to help me find those I still lack.

When it comes down to it, collecting trips are the heart of this pursuit we call coleopterology.  Estan Cabigas at Salagubang recounts a recent trip in A short collecting trip at Epol, Davao City.  He notes that while new species in groups of interest are not always expected, camaraderie in the field with like-minded people can more than make up for that.  Read the post to learn about what he found.

Pests

Honey bees have had more than their share of problems lately, with Colony Collapse Disorder adding to the multitude of other pests and pathogens these industrious little hymenopterans must deal with.  In Answer to the Monday Night Mystery: Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida), Alex Wild at Myrmecos shows some spectacular photographs of one of these other pests, with an appearance far more pleasing than the result of their infestations in honey bee hives.

The white-fringed weevil, Naupactus leucoloma, is not quite as serious a pest as the small hive beetle, and Dave Ingram recounts his encounter with this beetle feeding Amongst the Lily Seeds at Dave Ingram’s Natural History Blog.  Originally from South America but introduced worldwide, this beetle has made meal of many a plant species.

Development

In his post Micromalthus debilis, Heath Blackmon at Coleopterists Corner discusses a beetle with one of the oddest reproductive strategies and unusual genetic systems within the order Coleoptera.  A flowchart is actually required to understand the many different developmental pathways and larval phenotypes that are encountered in this species.  If you’re not yet familiar with paedogenesis or thelytokous, arrhenotokous, and amphiterotokous parthenogenesis, then this is the post for you!

Culture

Few other insects besides beetles have been used so widely as inspiration for and objects of art.  In Reflections on Beetle Art, Jonathan Neal at Living With Insects Blog discusses this and other cultural uses of beetles, including the dazzling artwork of Christopher Marley that was featured recently on a popular Sunday TV magazine.

Mike Bok’s AIF #8 last month at Arthopoda featured clever versions of classic Beatles (the music group) images with real beetles (the insects).  While his artwork was original, the connection between the two has obviously been made by others (including Amber with AIF #2).  Ever the good sport, Mike features yet another Abbey Road album cover in Further unintentional unoriginality.

This month’s contributors:

The November issue of AIF will be hosted by University of Texas graduate student Heath Blackmon at Coleopterists Corner (could there be a more appropriate carnival for Heath’s first hosting gig?).  Submit your submission using this handy submission form by November 15, and look for the issue to appear a few days later.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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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8 Responses to An Inordinate Fondness #9

  1. Pingback: Herps and Beetles | A Natural Evolution

  2. Margarethe says:

    Wow, thanks for picking two of my blogs. How did that happen? I don’t remember posting the Euphoria – At this rate I won’t have anything for the winter months (-:
    Great selection of blogs again, I’m happy to be part of this.
    Cheers
    MB

    • Sorry for jumping the gun on your winter submissions, but that Euphoria post was just too good to pass up!
      (Secretly, it’s in my top 2-3 favorites for this issue… but don’t tell anyone I’m picking favorites. ;))

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