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.