Highlands Tiger Beetle

October 10th, 2012 - 11:06 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 5 Comments

~7mm | August 21, 2012 | Lake Wales Ridge, Polk County, Fl, USA

I wasn’t properly excited when I photographed this tiger beetle. I now know this species, Cicindela highlandensis, is a somewhat rare endemic species. There were no shortage of them at this particular spot though.

Honestly, I ignored them at first, not being sure I wanted to invest the effort required to get some good shots. Eventually, I had already prostrated myself for some shots of other subjects, so I figured what the heck. I’ll admit I was also somewhat motivated by a desire to share some tiger beetle shots here for frequent commenter Ted C. MacRae to see. :)

Head on view, Ted’s trademark shot I think.

I like those single small hairs that stick up from above each eye.

These really are relatively small tiger beetles. I’m guessing that doesn’t stop them from tangling with big prey though. Looks like this one perhaps bit off more than it could chew, since it seems to be missing some antennal segments.

Another view from the front, showing missing antennal segments

Their dark color allows them to blend in quite well with all the other debris scattered about their sandy habitat. You don’t really notice them until they take flight.

Dorsal shot

I’m going to follow Ted’s lead and not reveal here the exact location where these were found. Looking at the timestamps of my images, I spent less than five minutes chasing this one beetle. If I go back, you can be sure I’ll spend more time photographing this species.

Leaf-mining Leaf Beetle

January 28th, 2012 - 10:57 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

8mm long | July 12, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This attractive little beetle was resting when I found it. Looking at it here, it almost appears to be nature’s idea of a gaudy holiday light display. Just imagine each of those elytral punctures as a tiny LED, and then imagine them programmed so that the dorsal patterns shift down the eltytra, one puncture at a time. Jokes aside, it actually blends in pretty well with the browning foliage.

This is a leaf-mining leaf beetle, so called because the larvae feed between the surfaces of leaves, creating mines. Adults feed on foliage, and it may be responsible for some of the leaf damage visible here, though I didn’t actually see it eating.

Frontal view

The larvae are flattened, making it easier to move within their mines. Adults seem to share this trait.

Dorsolateral view

Beetle with Red and Black Elytra

July 7th, 2011 - 12:38 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 5 Comments

25mm body | July 2, 2011 | Monte Alegre, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I spotted two of these beetles, both on tree bark at the base of trees. I don’t have any of my references with me, so I can only speculate about the family. Tenebrionidae, perhaps?

Snout Beetle

May 24th, 2011 - 6:01 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

18mm | January 20, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

Black and White Weevil

May 11th, 2011 - 8:10 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

15mm | January 19, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

My SWAG for this weevil is Cholus costaricensis, based only on illustration 16 on this plate from the Electronic Biologia Centrali-Americana. I could find no other information about this species online, but the name fits!

It’s got some fancy feet.

Fancy Foot

Headlight Beetle

May 8th, 2011 - 10:42 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 3 Comments

25mm | January 19, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

This click beetle in the family Elateridae was another night find. I’d like to say those light producing organs on the prothorax drew my attention. In reality, its “headlights” were “off” when I found it.

There are many species with these light producing organs spread across many genera, but they are all commonly referred to as headlight beetles.

On a side note, my blacklight flashlight was kind of a bust otherwise I’m afraid to report. I had hoped to find some scorpions at least, but this beetle was the only thing it turned up.

References:

Amazon Insects:
A Photo Guide

by James L. Castner
Latin American Insects and Entomology
by Charles L. Hogue

Another Attractive Beetle

May 4th, 2011 - 7:42 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 4 Comments

9mm | January 19, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

While I work on some longer posts, here’s another attractive unidentified beetle to ponder. Maybe a pleasing fungus beetle in the family Erotylidae?

Attractive Beetle

May 1st, 2011 - 10:26 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

 

11mm | January 19, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

I won’t venture an identification here, but it was too attractive to pass up! Can anyone narrow it down for me?

 

Mystery Beetles

March 10th, 2011 - 9:36 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 4 Comments

January 18, 2011 | Gandoca-Manzanillo NWR, Limon Province, Costa Rica

The day I spent in Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, I encountered many beetles like the one above. They were always crawling around on large leaves. I didn’t observe them feeding or see any obvious damage from possible feeding in their vicinity. Rather, I spotted what I assume are both males and females, possibly coming together for mating. I didn’t actually see any mating though.

I suspect the one above is a male, based on those antennae. Here’s what I figure is a female. There’s also a bit of its frass there (confirmed from another image).

Female?

There’s some variability in the coloring as well. Here’s another male, with less black on the head and pronotum.

Another male, with less black

I wished I could say more about their identity. My initial impression was Lycidae. Doesn’t seem quite right though, with no obvious latticework of veins on the elytra and such an exposed head. I looked through my North American beetle references, but nothing seemed like an obvious fit. Elateridae? Eucnemidae? Pyrochroidae? Hopefully a beetle expert will be able to at least place these in a family for me.

Here’s one more view of those antennae from the same individual as the lead photo.

Another view of those antennae

Leaf Beetles and Damaged Leaves

February 16th, 2011 - 5:26 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

2mm | January 17, 2011 | Cahuita National Park, Limon Province, Costa Rica

This is almost but not quite the shot I was going for. When I first saw this little beetle it was oriented toward the freshly eaten patch. With the frass strewn around, you can just imagine it chewing away at the surface in a circular pattern. I wasn’t quite stealthy enough in my approach however, and I spooked it into moving away.

Below is a similar beetle, perhaps a different sex of the same species. Note the difference between the freshly eaten patch above and the older ones below.

Showing older leaf damage