Wednesday, August 6, 2008

NEW FAMILIES(to me)

In one day I added two families that I hadn't collected in AZ to my collection. While sorting through some misc. Staphs I had collected from a blacklight, I noticed one of the beetles looked strange. On closer inspection, it was a Telegeuidae. I've collected this beetle before in New Mexico but this was the first time I found them in AZ. Then later in the evening, I went to my favorite collecting spot, Peppersauce Canyon and was poking under rocks in a small bat cave when I fond a Rhiphiceridae. This was the first Sandalus I had collected so I was quite excited. It truly was quite a good day for beetles!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Goniotropis!


Last weekend I found my first non-Metrius Paussinae. This is Goniotropis kuntzeni. It is in the tribe Ozaenini. While many members of the subfamily are myrmecophilic and extremely modified for such behavior, Goniotropis is not. Still, it is quite an impressive looking creature. I really dig the antenna cleaners on the protibia.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Triceratops!

Last weekend I finally found my first major male Strategus aloeus. I've seen countess numbers of minor males and females but this is the first one I have found with big horns! I was planning to off it but then kinda got attached to him so he is now my pet.
His name is Wendell. He is kept in a box without any lady friends so he seems quite frustrated right now. He seems to readily eat carrots and various fruits.

Now all I have to find is the local Megasoma to complete my collection of "horned" AZ dynastines...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Madera Canyon

A couple nights ago, I went to Madera Canyon to collect at the Old Baldy trailhead. There were storms in the distance but the sky in the canyon was quite clear. We set up our light in the parking lot and were immediately greeted by Chrysina. These glorious beetles came in droves.
As you can see, we got all 3 species of Arizona Chrysina, a phenomena that I hadn't witnessed before.
This is Chrysina beyeri, in my opinion the most attractive of the 3 species. Gotta love those purple legs!

We also got lecontei and gloriossa, which are both handsome species as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Usechus?!



This is one of the non-Tenebs I was hoping to encounter during my trip through Cali. It is Usechus. One of the more bizarre members of the family Zopheridae. It is found under bark. All the specimens I found came from either under the bark of redwoods or pines. It has weird antennal cavities on the pronotum.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Love Stump

While traveling through El Dorado National Forest, I came across a stump that from afar seemed to be crawling with ants. Upon a closer inspection, I saw that the stump was actually crawling with Aradids (flat bugs). Up to this point, I've only stumbled upon lone Aradids or groups of 10 or 15 under bark, but before me there were hundreds of Aradids, milling around on the surface of a pine stump.
The Aradids stayed on the stump feverishly mating until the sun started to go down, and slowly they started to fly away. Later in the evening, we noticed termite sexuals flying around. When I looked towards the direction they were coming from, I soon realized that they were coming from the same log.

video
I wonder if any other insects use this stump for their reproductive business.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Well it was new to me!

During our road trip, we collected a lot in the El Dorado/Tahoe area of California. Here I encountered some Tenebs that are very common but I had not collected yet (mostly because this really was my first trip to this part of California). I knew that these beetles were common as all the major collections I've been to has hundreds of specimens, but it was still exciting to see them first-hand, alive.
This little guy is Bius estriatus.

It is in the same tribe as Tenebrio and asides from the color (one of the few non all black Tenebs I caught during the trip) it doesn't look all too odd. I expected to find these under bark as thats where I found its relatives out East, but this fellow was inside of a Polypore.

This next critter is Scotobaenus parallellus.
Again, very common in California, but new to me! This clunky fellow is also similar in behavior to the East Coast Tenebs I was used to chasing. They spend their days under bark, preferring dry trees over moist. Then once the sun goes down, they come out and slowly crawl along logs.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Beach Lucanid?

During our trip up the coast, we stumbled upon a really interesting Lucanid at one of the beaches we visited. This is Platyceropsis keeni. My friend and I had been hunting for this creature for a couple of days. This curious "stag" beetle is known to occur along the coast of Northern California all the way up to British Columbia under driftwood during the Spring months. We had visited a couple beaches in Northern California, each with lots of driftwood along the coast and flipped over hundred of logs but were not successful in finding any. We then headed into Oregon and pulled off at a nice looking beach south of Gold Beach. After flipping over a couple logs, we finally found a dead one. We dashed out to the coast and started flipping over every piece of driftwood we could find but could not find any live specimens... were we too late?

After a while, I had gotten bored/given up and headed to the valley behind the first row of dunes to look for Tenebrionids in the drier sand. Here I found a nice pile of drier driftwood and started flipping them over to find Phaleromella, a Teneb I hadn't encountered before. Then I saw this guy. A live Platyceropsis keeni digging through the sand! Elated, I flipped over more logs and found a couple more, and also the larvae, which interestingly seems to live in the sand right under driftwood as well. In another patch of driftwood in this area behind the first row of dunes, we found more live adults. While its hard to speculate from just one collecting event, it was interesting that all our effort flipping logs right on the coast resulted in zero specimens, while they were fairly common in this particular microhabitat.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weird Teneb 2

This next "weird" teneb is actually quite common in California but I hadn't collected it until this trip.
This is Anepsius delicatulatus, a tiny Teneb around 2.5mm long. Like many Tenebs, this little critter crawls around on the ground in evenings and nights feeding on detritus. It is actually in the same tribe as Weird Teneb # 1. I found these out in Inyo County in a small county-run camp. These guys are around all year but seem to be most active in the late spring months. They prefer soft sandy ground and sometimes can even be found on aeolian sand dunes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weird Teneb

So I've just returned from a month long collecting trip through California and Oregon. The weather did not always cooperate but collecting was still pretty awesome. The very first day of the trip, we stayed in a random campsite off the I-10 outside of Los Angeles in Cherry Valley. It was rainy and hailing and absolutely miserable but the Tenebs were still out. Found the usual California genera, Coniontis, Coelocnemis, Nyctoporis, but then my friend found something you don't see every day. While combing through a nest of Liometopum, he pulled out two of these guys.
This is Anchomma costatum. One of the few Tenebs in the US that has 4-4-4 tarsi instead of 5-5-4. It was originally described as a Colydiid, then placed with the Stenosini in Tenebrionidae, and now rests in Anepsiini. While it was found in an ant nest, it is probably not obligate upon the ant and instead, like many Tenebs, probably feeds on the ant's refuse.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why AZ is pretty rad: Chrysina gloriosa


I still remember when I saw my first Chrysina gloriosa 4 years ago, the iridescent green and silver orb clunked into my black-light, confused and disoriented. It made me wonder, what evolutionary forces resulted in such brilliant metallic coloration on a beetle that is mostly active only at night. Last year during the monsoons, these beetles were at times, the most common scarabs to come to my black light.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sometimes we all make mistakes!

Last summer was the first time I experienced a true Southern Arizona monsoon. The rains brought out all sorts of Tenebs I've never seen alive. The plants were green, flowers were blooming, and love was in the air. All sorts of bugs that I had never seen alive were out including bunches of Asidines (the non smelly desert tanks). Below is a photo of a normal mating pair of Philolithus morbillosus.

This pair was one of hundreds of this species that had aggregated in a grassy parking lot. Apparently the males are quite depraved as the next photo illustrates.
The male (on top), in a hurry to copulate, did not realize that the female (who was frantically trying to run away) was of a completely different species. The bottom species is Parasida lirata. This male was not alone, a number of other odd couplings like this were observed, and some were succeeding in copulating. Would have been quite interesting to see if any viable young were produced but alas I didn't keep any... Perhaps this coming monsoon I'll grab some.





Saturday, April 26, 2008

Local Bugs

As I was walking to the lab today, I saw a small beetle running around on the concrete. I remember in Ithaca, that all the beetles I found running around on campus tended to be Carabids (mostly Amara or Pterostichus). Not in Tucson though. The small beetle was a Tenebrionid in the genus, Blapstinus. These beetles are fairly common in the SW and are characterized by having their eyes completely divided by extensions of the side of their face.

This particular beast is the third species I've encountered in the lawns around my lab.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mystery P-toid

A couple days ago I noticed that one of the beetles I had brought back from the Imperial dunes wasn't looking too healthy. Thinking that it was just reaching the end of its life due to natural causes, I stuck him in a kill jar. When I took him out to pin today, this is what I saw.

Unfortunately the larvae, which I think is a Tachnid, was already dead. This beetle, Eusattus dilitatus, spends almost its entire life underground. In fact, the only specimens I've seen above ground were those that had already perished. They live among the roots of various plants in the Imperial dunes. Check out some cool action shots of this beetle here.
This raises some interesting questions. Do the adult flies just wait for one of the beetles to sporadically surface? Do the adults lay eggs at the base of plants and early instar larvae then somehow search out suitable hosts?
The larvae itself is big, relative to its host size. Imagine living with something that big wriggling around in you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Algodones

This weekend I went out to the Algodones dunes with some friends to poke around. Located just West of Yuma, the Algodones dunes is the largest and dune system in the United States. Unfortunately most of it has been destroyed by OHVs, but the BLM was smart enough to set some of it aside for wildlife.









On the left is the area used by OHVs and on the right is the preserved area... Can you spot the difference?
There apparently is quite a difference in Tenebrionid fauna between spring and fall so I was excited to see what was out. I brought my strainer to sift the sand and sure enough, found some psammophilous Tenebs. Unfortunately they were all too small to shoot with my camera so photos will come later. One notable species I found was Araeoschizus. I have been searching for this odd looking Teneb since I first traveled to AZ 4 years ago. I sifted the first couple out of a K-rat burrow but once the sun fell, these guys were crawling around at the base of plants. I also encountered one specimen of the psammophilous Teneb, Batulius setosa. These mighty beasts are known from the debris that accumulates at the base of dunes, but the one I saw was found about a foot under the sand in the middle of the dunes away from vegetation. Makes one wonder what kind of diversity exists below the shifting sands of the dunes.
Here are some other cool bugs encountered on our trip.










The critter on the left is Ophrysates and is probably the largest weevil I've seen in the US. It was just chomping away on a plant so I left it there. The one on the right is a burrowing roach. This litter fella was quite persistent in its attempt to burrow and even tried burrowing into our hands as we held her.

On the way back we stopped by an interesting taco stand selling interesting tacos?

mmm Polar Bear tacos... delicious.