LINDA GRAETZ PHOTOGRAPHY | Four amazing beetles
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Four amazing beetles

November 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

It's estimated there are over one million species of insects on the planet and of all the insect orders, the Beetles, (Coleoptera), comprise the largest number: around 350-400,000 species.  The name coleoptera comes from two Greek words: koleon meaning sheath and pteron meaning wing. So named because beetle fore wings, called elytra, are hardened like a sheath.  Elytra aren’t used for flight.  Instead they protect the beetle’s membranous hind wings which do all the flying.  Closely observe a lady beetle. (And if you live some place cold you may have a few overwintering in your home right now--a convenient opportunity for insect study.)  Watch the beetle for awhile, and wait until it takes off.  You might see it lift and open the elytra allowing the flight wings to emerge and the beetle to take off.  

Beetles can be very small or very large; some are rather plain, others quite ornate. Some have long, jointed antennae, others have antennae short and palmate. Beetle snouts? Even more varied and awesome. Menacing, ugly, bizarre, handsome, funny: an endless supply of adjectives could be used to describe beetle species. Granted, descriptors are purely subjective. Depending on your point of view, the Eastern Hercules Beetle (see: ) could be called ugly, beautiful, terrifying, surreal, or perhaps a miracle of nature.  I think they are all miracles so I've created an album just for beetles. Here are some of the more unusual ones I have seen.

Long-nosed WeevilLong-nosed WeevilLove those antennae!
Naples, Maine
Order: Coloeptera

This extraordinary looking creature flew into one of my black-lights this summer. Its very long and slender nose extends so far out from its body that the beetle's bent antennae emerge like branches part way down the snout!  This beetle is a species of long-nosed weevil, a member of the Curcuilo family. The female uses her long snout to bore into acorns or nuts where she deposits her eggs. The larvae that hatch inside will feed on the nut until they are ready to pupate. I attracted a lot of beetles to my black light this summer, and I've since learned that most adult beetles are nocturnal.

scarab beetlescarab beetle

When I first saw this species of scarab beetle (Exomalis orientalis) it was crawling on a green leaf, its antennae appearing smooth and straight to the tip. But suddenly the antennae expanded, and each tip ended in a three-pronged fan. Like fingers opening and closing, I watched the beetle work its antennae. Fan-tippped or lamellate antennae are characteristic of all scarab beetle species. This little beetle's lamellae are very simple compared to more elaborate ones on other beetle species. Insect antennae are complex sensory organs used primarily for smell.

Eastern Ironclad BeetleEastern Ironclad Beetlefound on polypore fungus
Oquossuc, Maine

Last August while on a hike in Maine I bent down to examine a large bracket fungus growing at the base of a tree.  I noticed an irregularity on its surface -- a warty-looking bump.  Peering closely, I was delighted to discover that the abnormality was actually a small beetle very well camouflaged on its fungal habitat.  I first identified it as an Eastern Ironclad Beetle, but have since learned that it is a Forked Fungus Beetle. I think I was overly enthusiastic about adopting the ironclad ID -- it seemed so appropriate for its tough rusty exterior! 

Iridescent Dogbane BeetleIridescent Dogbane Beetle

This Iridescent Dogbane Beetle is one of the prettiest species I saw this year. Like the Calligrapha beetle I saw in 2014,  it belongs to the Chrysomelidae or Leaf and Seed beetle family.  Many species in this family are ‘picky eaters’ consuming only one specific type of plant.  And like so many insect families they represent yin and yang:  one species considered “good” such as Charidotella purpurata  which attacks undesirable bindweed, and another species considered “bad” such as the Colorado potato beetle, because it destroys a desirable food crop.  I'm not here to judge -- I'm only here to wonder.

For more amazing beetles:








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