Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gorgeous Rove Beetle

Gold-and-brown Rove Beetle
Linda Bower sent me this gorgeous picture of a Gold-and-brown Rove Beetle (GRB), Ontholestes cingulatus taken in her garden.  From here on this beautiful story goes all down hill.

Rove beetles are common although you may not have seen them unless you spend time looking at dead animals, decaying plant matter, compost piles, fungi and dung.  This is where the adult beetles finds maggots, mites, beetle larvae and some carrion and fungi for dinner.

Coyote gift with rove beetle
Linda's specimen was on top of a pile of coyote dung in her butterfly garden.  Coyote dung is characterized by the large amount of hair in it.  Most of our dogs will either bring their mammal treasures back to the house for us to admire or only sample a bit before returning to fill up on their kibbles.

GRBs mate with the male on top, unlike many other rove beetles which mate end to end.  Males guard the females they mate with, fighting of competing males that approach her.  The larvae go through a complete metamorphosis while eating primarily the larvae associated with their habitat.

GRBs are found in most of the United States and Eastern Canada.  The head is wider than the thorax, unlike most rove beetles.  Although small elytra (wing covers) protect the wings, it can take flight in a split second. It is also called the Girdled Rove Beetle based on the yellow "girdle" between the second and third set of legs which extends to the lower abdomen and tail.

Camouflaged beetle with bright yellow tipped abdomen
When viewed from above they have great camouflage except the yellow tip of their abdomen. When they move they will hold the end of the abdomen up, a bright yellow flag attracting attention of a predator.  If touched it releases a defensive fluid to repel the attacker.

More information on rove beetles in general is found at this link.