Thursday, July 21, 2011

Green June Beetle-NOT!

Note:
Our beetle- Click pictures to enlarge
Thanks to an alert Shelly Cox* from MDC we have a new ID below.  I posted a Green June Beetle story this morning which was all correct except it wasn't the right beetle!  Within a few hours of the posting, Shelly read it and identified the beetle as a Fiery Searcher, a.k.a.  Caterpillar Hunter.  First the differences.
  • Note that my beetle pictures, like the Fiery Searcher, show long thin antennae and legs that are smooth.  The wing covers are streaked with long furrows and scattered tiny pits.
  • The Green June Beetle picture shows short broad antennae, clubbed at the end, and legs with curved spines on the tibia.  Its wing covers are perfectly smooth.
Fiery Searcher- Calosoma scrutator
Green June Beetle - Continis nitida
Note smooth legs,long antennae
Note wing cover grooves and pits








The beetles of the Calosoma genus are large beetles which hunt caterpillars, both good and bad from our myopic human perspective.  Most of the 167 known species are black but Calosoma scrutator is a colorful exception.  It gets respect from its mandibles which nip prey, predators and unwary bipeds which pick them up.  They also can produce a foul smelling spray from glands at the tip of their abdomen.

Both the beetles and their larvae climb trees in search of caterpillars.  They are active from May, when the trees leaf out, through the fall.  They winter as adults and can live up to three years.

An animal's role in nature is all in the eye of the beholder.  The Fiery Searcher is generally considered a beneficial insect, eliminating destructive caterpillars although some lepidopterists and caterpillars may disagree.


Click to enlarge
The lesson here is to observe small details carefully.  Had I taken the time to draw my beetle, the details would have jumped out at me.  Notice the fiery rim around the dorsal thorax in the picture below taken by Jon Rapp of Columbia, MO.

**Shelly Cox writes my new favorite blog, http://mobugs.blogspot.com/.  She started out as a Missouri Department of Conservation volunteer in 2003 and lost her "amateur status" when she was hired by MDC as a Naturalist in January of this year. She posts to her blog with regularity and she has the advantage over me of knowing what she writes about (although this weakness will not stop me from writing).

13 comments:

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  2. Just stopped in to comment on the pictures, they are lovely.

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  3. some insects turn out in my house when rain just stop,do you know why?

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  9. I'm normally scared of beetles, but you made this one seem pretty cool.

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  11. I am scared about beetles and and its allergies.

    Ahsima

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  13. Me and my family went to Eurika Springs this weekend. My kids spotted this bug and my husband was gonna pick it up to scare them....well it sprayed a liquid in his hand and you could smell him 10 feet away. It was horrible and we all had to get on a bus with him. He tried to wash it several times, even used hand sanitizer and nothing worked. It smelt like rotten milk or old cheese. About an hour later when he finally got to wash them good he noticed that his fingers were stiff and slightly swollen. I'm hoping it's nothing too harmful ;) he made it through the night anyway. NASTIEST smelling bug ever!

    ReplyDelete