Tag Archives: coleoptera

Living Jewels of San Juan

Buprestis aurulenta or Golden Buprestid Beetle

I found this little green beetle (and another sad little black and yellow beetle missing its antennae) in the pool yesterday. The black and yellow beetle is alive and… well, sort of living in a special habitat right now because of those missing antennae.

The green one was completely waterlogged and lifeless. I had left it on the table next to Drago’s enclosure last night, thinking I’d pin it and keep it in my collection. I am SO GLAD I DIDN’T stick it with a pin! This morning, I found it moving those little legs around at me. It was alive! RIP woke up.  

Golden Buprestid beetle (Buprestis aurulenta)

Golden Buprestid beetle (Buprestis aurulenta


This is a Golden Buprestid Beetle (Buprestis aurulenta). They are a native species in the Pacific Northwest. I have referred to them often as the Rip Van Winkle beetle because they take such a long time to develop from egg to adult. In fact, the record is 51 years!  


Why so long? Well, the developmental time depends a lot on the quality of what they’re eating (they develop in dead or dying trees) and miscellaneous environmental factors. When they come out as an adult, they leave behind a little oval hole. I think it adds character to your wood trim if you have them “sleeping” in timber used to build your house.

We had one in our door trim that didn’t make it all the way out and probably had been stuck for awhile before I noticed. It became a fascinating object to show anyone who came to visit our home.

Golden Buprestid stuck in door trim (March 20, 2016)

I’m not sure what gives them this beautiful iridescence, but they are undeniably one of nature’s jewels, thus the name “Jewel” Beetle. 

Golden Buprestid Beetle – San Juan Island 07.27.2022
Golden buprestid set free to fly away in the forest.

References and further reading:

Zeng, Y. 1995. University of Florida Book of Insect Records, Chapter 12 Longest Life Cycle. Department of Entomology & Nematology University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0620 https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/ufbir/files/pdf/UFBIR_Chapter12.pdf

Bugguide.net https://bugguide.net/node/view/74029

Nelson, D. 2021. Buprestis aurulenta (Golden Buprestid) 10,000 Things of the Pacific Northwest http://10000thingsofthepnw.com/2021/05/19/buprestis-aurulenta-golden-buprestid/

Radar Love

Hello Everyone!  Meet my new bug friend, Radar Love ❤️  He must have crashed the wrong party.  Radar gone wrong!  I found him floating in our pool, in the midst of those raucous “dippers” (the Diplotaxis beetles).  Radar Love was so happy I didn’t let him drown, and even happier that I didn’t stick him with a pin and add him to the bug equivalent of a stamp collection.  We hung out together for a bit and I took some photos and video to remember him by.  Radar Love was released into the forest so he can make more of his kind.  

Odonteus obesus
Odonteus obesus

Odonteus obesus
Odonteus obesus
Odonteus obesus

Location:  San Juan Island

ID: Geotruipidae (Odonteus obsesus)

Special thanks to my friend, Michelle Sloan Bos and Tyler Hedlund for ID assistance with this.  I was rushing to get ready for my special spider outing.  More about that later.  For now, enjoy this rare and exciting  sighting of a most special little beetle that calls San Juan Island his home.  

More Info: https://bugguide.net/node/view/160586

Odonteus obesus

No Clowning Around in the Pool Without a Life Jacket.

Yesterday I was the lifeguard. And, I had swimmers needing saving!

Hister Beetle (Genus Margarinotus I believe) – April 7, 2022 San Juan Island, WA

Here’s one of the species I used a piece of cardboard to rescue from drowning. This is a beetle in the family Histeridae, also known as a Clown Beetle. I told him no more clowning around without a life jacket. 🤣 Watch as it wrings its hindwings out, rolling them in under the leathery elytra (the outer wings).

I believe this beetle is in the genus Margarinotus. For ID beyond this, I’d need more time and a lot of patience. However, I can tell you I’ve learned some species of Hister beetles are associated with the nests of rodents, birds, and even ants and termites. They are pest predators, meaning they eat other insects at all life stages. They also are especially adept predators of fly eggs. You can often find them in leaf litter, dung, carrion, and under tree bark, or living in those ant mounds where they may be fed by ants, eat the leftovers the ants discard, or in some cases, they eat the ants!

Some other curious tidbits about these beetles include their acting ability. They play dead (Thanatosis) to deter predators. The word Hister is derived from Latin and means “Actor.”

Hister Beetle (I believe Margarinotus sp) – San Juan Island, WA

References:

Caterino, M. S. (2010). A review of California Margarinotus Marseul (Coleoptera: Histeridae: Histerinae: Histerini), with descriptions of two new species. The Coleopterists Bulletin64(1), 1-12. https://bioone.org/journals/The-Coleopterists-Bulletin/volume-64/issue-1/0010-065X-64.1.1/A-Review-of-California-Margarinotus-Marseul-Coleoptera–Histeridae/10.1649/0010-065X-64.1.1.pdf?casa_token=FFQE6VfrPhwAAAAA:6hS4kWWWX-lGeUPQFiU-7Dc2atg_nhsgP0almrxzvWjgwhxDLMShzekiAS7HWEKT5_AL2n4i

Wenzel, R. L. (1960). Three new histerid beetles from the Pacific Northwest, with records and synonymies of additional species (Coleoptera: Histeridae). https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/2847194

Bugs Like the Color Blue

Bugs like Blue. I found a bunch of these little ones yesterday floating on the surface of our above ground pool. They were also all along the outside of the pool (which is blue). I scooped out all the ones that were struggling in the water and watched as this one dried itself off. It reminded me of watching my cats grooming after finishing a meal of Fancy Feast wet cat food.

Listrus Flower Beetle on Side of Pool – April 7, 2022 – San Juan Island, WA

A Soft-Winged Flower Beetle, these are in the family Melyridae (Genus Listrus). At only about 2 mm in size, they were indeed pretty tiny. Listrus beetles feed on both pollen and nectar. They are covered with dense setae (little hairs) that pollen easily adheres to. Check out the paper reference below and learn how they have been recognized as one of the most important pollinators of plants in Western North America.

Listrus sp. flower beetle

Reference: Jonathan R. Mawdsley. (2003). The Importance of Species of Dasytinae (Coleoptera: Melyridae) as Pollinators in Western North America. The Coleopterists Bulletin, 57(2), 154–160 pdf link at Bioone.org *Note* It will directly download the pdf when you click the link. https://bioone.org/journals/the-coleopterists-bulletin/volume-57/issue-2/541/The-Importance-of-Species-of-Dasytinae-Coleoptera–Melyridae-as/10.1649/541.pdf?casa_token=luFq1Z9jff4AAAAA:3-9zCg42504MZ0w5J1bfFu28XAWIA91G8bbrmDfDckmhTGAI6FTAjgcgBQVqCv847ogua3mL

Bill the Beetle, aka Zeke the Greek

I thought I’d post about something new I discovered today when reading about the Darkling Beetle species Zophobas morio.  These are beetles that some folks will know by the common name for their larval form, Superworms.  

First off, the beetle I’ll be using as my representative here is named “Bill.” I discovered Bill one day in my bin of feeder roaches for my Bearded Dragon (Drago).  When I first met Bill, he was a weird waxy, mummy-looking mutant lying motionless amongst the frass (roach poo) at the bottom of the plastic bin. 

He almost got dumped into the trash, but I gently picked him out recognizing the wax museum-like form as the pupal stage of some sort of bug.  It definitely was NOT a roach since roaches have hemimetabolous development.  This means their intermediary stages or nymphs, basically look like mini replicas of their adult parents. 

Zophabus morio, “Bill”

Bill didn’t stay red for very long and in fact, the next day he was pretty BLACK.  While investigating a bit about the meaning of his scientific or Latin name, I couldn’t find much in the entomological references I checked.  I delved a bit deeper and came up with this and thought you might find it interesting.  

In Greek, Zophos refers to “black” or “black darkness of the nether world.”  Mori refers to “death.”   

I think I like the name Bill if he’s going to hang out on my kitchen counter, but maybe for Halloween he can be scary Zeke the Greek, herald of black death of the netherworld.  

Bill is also going to be a family member for about as long as Drago.  I’m not sure how my husband will feel about this.  He asked me when I got Drago how long Bearded Dragons live.  I said “about 15 years with good care.”  Wow!  That means we will be in our 60’s.  

Drago was 3 when he came to live with us in March 2020, so if he lives to be 15, I will be the very old age of 68.  Well, BILL can live for about the exact same amount of time!  FIFTEEN years.  That’s right!  I read it here -https://sciencing.com/superworm-life-cycle-5347598.html

Bill in his habitat

If you’re interested in a pet beetle like mine, here’s a link to a care sheet. They are easy to keep, low maintenance, and don’t bite! https://beta-static.fishersci.com/content/dam/fishersci/en_US/documents/programs/education/technical-documents/data-sheets/carolina-biological-darkling-beetle-data-sheet.pdf

Thanks for reading! 🐞🦋🐝🐛🐜🦗🦟

Aphodiine Dung Beetle – October 21, 2020

I found this tiny (approx 4.5mm) Scarab yesterday when I went out to pick the remaining few tomatoes in the garden. It came in with me just long enough to get a few photos so I could attempt an ID. If I’d kept it long enough to realize what I had, I might have tried for better pics. Instead, I returned it to a sunny spot outdoors and let it go about its business in the garden.

After an internet search, I came up with a preliminary ID to subfamily Aphodiinae, but I believe this specimen to be in the tribe Aphodiini and possibly (Agoliinus sigmoideus). This is where my frustration begins as I definitely need my specimen back for further examination in order to confirm. For now, we’ll leave it at Aphodiinae.

The Aphodiinae are dung beetles that feed on detritus and more. Bugguide references the work of Skelley (2008) and states, “many feed on dung, some are detritivores, psammophiles, saprophages, inquilines with ants or termites, or may potentially be predators; adults with reduced mandibles are suspected to feed primarily on bacteria or yeast-rich fluids in dung or decaying materials.”

Reading about dung beetles in general, I came across an interesting publication in Biological Control that examined how some species of coprophagous dung beetles can reduce the contamination of bacteria like Escherichia coli in agricultural systems when flies, livestock, or wildlife are present. Aside from providing other important ecosystem services like feces removal and nutrient recycling, the aspect that they also help with food safety by reducing harmful bacteria is another reason we need to invest in organic agricultural systems that do not rely on harmful pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides which alter the natural biological processes at work. In short, nature does it best!

Aphodiini San Juan Island, WA 10.21.2020
Aphodiini San Juan Island, WA 10.21.2020
Aphodiini San Juan Island, WA 10.21.2020

References

Bugguide.net – https://bugguide.net/node/view/13137

Skelley P.E. (2008) Aphodiinae. In: Generic guide to New World scarab beetles

Key to genera of New World Aphodiini (Scarabaeidae: Aphodiinae) http://unsm-ento.unl.edu/Guide/Scarabaeoidea/Scarabaeidae/Aphodiinae/AphodiinaeTribes/Aphodiini/Key/AphodiiniK.html

Nicrophorus Burying Beetle Powerpoint – Grave to Cradle

The links here are for a project I worked on in grad school about Burying Beetles. I was having some trouble getting the code to share it on WordPress, so if you have trouble viewing, let me know. Powerpoint link is via OneDrive at https://1drv.ms/b/s!AnuXRWM_ynxHcba_40yxFvTJCgw?e=toCNNE but I also have it on Slideshare.net at https://www.slideshare.net/CyndiBormann/burying-beetles-powerpoint?qid=e930baf4-87e9-4553-a366-0044098db422&v=&b=&from_search=1

The Three Banded Lady Beetle (Coccinella trifasciata subversa)

Coccinella trifasciata subversa on clover

I found my first Three Banded Lady Beetle (Coccinella trifasciata subversa) this morning in the patch of clover in front of my home. At least I believe it is the subspecies ‘subversa’ according to the information I found online and referencing the distribution map. While I did not find much information about this particular species pertaining to life in the Pacific Northwest, I did find that according to the Lost Ladybug Project, this species (Coccinella trifasciata) is considered a species of greatest conservation need in the state of New York.

Coccinella trifasciata subversa on clover Photo by Cynthia Brast-Bormann San Juan Island, WA 07.06.2020
Distribution map of Coccinella trifasciata subversa

So, because I’m interested in Lady Beetles and conservation, I submitted my photos today to the Lost Ladybug Project. They’re keeping records of sightings and I believe it’s important to collect and share data that help us understand more about the lives all of all the amazing critters we share the planet with.

If you see a Lady Beetle you are interested in knowing more about, take a look at the Lost Ladybug Project here – http://www.lostladybug.org/index.php

If you have time, check out my Facebook Page, Bugs of the San Juan Islands at https://www.facebook.com/buggingyoufromSJI/

Thanks for reading! 🐞🐞🐞

Long-horned Leaf Beetle (Plateumaris germari)

I really enjoy the days when I have an opportunity to go over insect images I’ve taken, but haven’t yet had the chance to identify. This small (approx 7-8mm), metallic beetle is a leaf beetle in the family Chrysomelidae. It’s a Long-horned Leaf Beetle (Plateumaris germari). They are associated with aquatic habitats and this specimen was found near a wetland habitat on San Juan Island, WA., May 12, 2015. Yes. I’m slow at getting around to sorting things, but was happy to share this one today.

Long-horned Leaf Beetle
Plateumaris germari
San Juan Island, WA
May 12, 2015
photo by Cynthia Brast
Long-horned Leaf Beetle
Plateumaris germari
Long-horned Leaf Beetle
Plateumaris germari
Long-horned Leaf Beetle
Plateumaris germari
Long-horned Leaf Beetle
Plateumaris germari

References: https://bugguide.net/node/view/601794

Good neighbors

So my neighbor brought me a bug this afternoon and it’s not even my birthday! Thank you Julia. You made my day! 🐝🐛🦋🦗🐞

(Trichocnemis spiculatus) The Ponderous Borer or Western Pine Sawyer

Ponderous Borer (Trichocnemis spiculatus)
Trichocnemis spiculatus
San Juan Island, WA
July 31, 2019
Trichocnemis spiculatus
San Juan Island, WA
July 31, 2019

Last year, I had someone from Orcas, Island, WA submit a fabulous video of one of these with footage of it ovipositing! Check out this link to watch more here ~ https://www.facebook.com/joysmurf/videos/10155670480191451/

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