I’ve mentioned a few times that April is not a very good time to look for beetles in northern Argentina, as the months preceding April are typically hot and dry. September through January would be a much better time, especially to look for the wood boring beetles (families Buprestidae and Cerambycidae) that I am so fond of. Still, if I am in Argentina in April then I must look for beetles in April, and while I didn’t see a single buprestid during my week in Corrientes and Chaco Provinces last month I did a fair number of cerambycid beetles on stands of goldenrod (Solidago chilensis) at a few localities in Chaco Province. One particularly common species was Aglaoschema rufiventre, a beautiful metallic green species with, you guessed it, a red abdomen. Aglaoschema is a rather large (27 species), exclusively Neotropical genus whose members superficially resemble the diurnal, brightly colored species of the tribe Trachyderini but actually belong to the tribe Compsocerini. Most of the species occur in Brazil, but six extend further south into Argentina. Of these, A. rufiventre most resembles A. haemorrhoidale and A. ventrale but is distinguished by its subcylindrical antennal scape—or first segment (clavate in A. ventrale) and non-roughened elytra (roughened—or “asperate”—in A. hemorrhoidale) (Napp 2007). No hosts have been reported for A. rufiventre (Monné 2001), so my finding of adults on flowers of S. chilensis seems to be the first reported host association for the species.
I photographed several of these beetles on S. chilensis flowers at two locations in Chaco Province along Ruta 16 west of Resistencia, but I was generally unsatisfied with how the photos turned out. The combination of the beetles’ metallic sheen and the bright yellow color of the flowers made getting the right exposure and lighting difficult—I either blew out the yellow on the flowers or ended up with deep shadows on the beetles. One morning I encountered this female sitting on the seed head of an grass unidentified grass. Torpid from the cool temperatures and covered in morning dew, she was a most cooperative subject, and the colors of the seed head turned out to be much more complimentary for photographing the beetle that the bright yellow goldenrod flowers.
Monné, M. A. 2001. Catalogue of the Neotropical Cerambycidae (Coleoptera) with known host plant—Part I: Subfamily Cerambycinae, tribes Achrysonini to Elaphidiini. Publicações Avulsas do Museu Nacional 88:1–108.
Napp, D. S. 2007. Revisão do gênero Aglaoschema Napp (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae). Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 24(3):793–816.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012