Tag Archives: Coleoptera

Pavel Krásenský Photographs Mating Strepsiptera

This is one of an amazing sequence photographed by Pavel Krásensky 

Male Strepsiptera approaching bee, by Pavel Krásenský

Male Strepsiptera approaching bee, by Pavel Krásenský

Strepsiptera or Twisted-wing parasites are a bizarre internal parasites of bees and wasps. Their life-cycle begins similar to the oil beetles (Meloidae).

From NC State University Entomology pages:

Strepsiptera share so many characteristics with beetles that some entomologists classify them as a superfamily of Coleoptera.  In fact, Strepsiptera and certain parasitic beetles (in the families Meloidaeand Rhipiphoridae) are among the very few insects that undergo hypermetamorphosis, an unusual type of holometabolous development in which the larvae change body form as they mature.  Upon emerging from their mother’s body, the young larvae, called triunguloids, have six legs and crawl around in search of a suitable host.  In species that parasitize bees or wasps, a triunguloid usually climbs to the top of a flower and waits for a pollinator.  When a host arrives, the larva jumps aboard, burrows into its body, and quickly molts into a second stage that has no distinct head, legs, antennae or other insect-like features.  These larvae grow and continue to molt inside the host’s body cavity, assimilating nutrients from the blood and non-vital tissues.  After pupating in the host, winged males emerge and fly in search of mates.  An adult female remains inside her host, managing to attract and mate with a male while only a small portion of her body protrudes from the host’s abdomen.  Embryos develop within the female’s body, and a new generation of triunguloid larvae begin their life cycle by escaping through a brood passage on the underside of her body.

See the whole sequence at Pavel’s blog, Macrophotography (use Google translate!). My Meloidae post can be seen at The Black Oil Beetle.

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Posted in Autumn, Blog Link, Coleoptera, Feature Photographer, Insect, Inspiration, macro, Mating, Meloidae, News, Parasitism | Also tagged , , , , , , 2 Comments

Ted MacRae shares Tips and Tricks for Field Photography of Wary Insects

I thought this webinar was locked-up by the ESA, but the video is now on Youtube, so everyone can see Ted’s excellent Adven webcast on photographing Tiger beetles and other insects. This is the first time that I can recall any bug photographer giving such detailed information on how to stalk bugs, and of course,  it is laced with many of his fine images.

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Posted in Bugs, Cicindelidae, Coleoptera, Feature Entomologist, Insect, Inspiration, macro, photography, Technique | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

What to do with a Long Horn Beetle?


Spruce Sawyer or White-spotted Sawyer (Monochamus scutellatus)

Longhorns Beetles (Coleoptera, Family Cerambycidae) can be a bit of a challenge to photograph well, because the antennae are so long  that they are hard to include in the photo without all or part of the length being out of focus. As macro photographers we must choose carefully what part of the subject will be in focus, because the depth of field is always shallow. As a rule, the eye is the most important feature to keep in focus. Some photographers choose to close in on the beetle and leave the ‘horns’ severely clipped at the image borders, however, by carefully aligning both the beetle and the closer antenna on the same plane, it is possible to get an acceptable appearance of focus throughout. The other alternative is a direct dorsal photograph of a chilled or pinned specimen, with antenna flat, but this does not give the lively look that is most pleasing.

However, there is another approach. Treat your longhorn like a portrait photographer would, and ask it to –  “…tilt your head just a little bit this way”, and …”now a little bit to the right” and”… lift your chin a bit…that’s it! Hold it!”

Longhorn beetle


Live beetle donated by a kindly visitor to my booth at the Rooted in Nature Art Show at Devonian Botanic Gardens!

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Posted in Alberta, Behaviour, Canada, Cerambycidae, Coleoptera, Composition, Fun, Insect, macro, photography, Portrait, Season, Summer, Technique, White Studio | Also tagged , , , , , Comments Off

Long-lipped Tiger Beetles Revisited

Just back from a family holiday to BC! Here’s a shot from before the break, the same beetles that I photographed earlier.

Long-lipped tiger beetles on white. Not chilled, not frozen, not stunned…just amazingly compliant and clumsy when occupied this way.

Mating Long-lipped Tiger Beetles,  Cicindela longilabris

Mating Long-lipped Tiger Beetles, Cicindela longilabris

Soon after this image was taken, the female did manage to throw off the male, and after moments of stunned immobility, they both flew off.


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Posted in Alberta, Canada, Cicindelidae, Coleoptera, Insect, macro, Mating, Natural Area, photography, Season, Spring, White Studio | Also tagged , , , , , 1 Comment

The Week on Sunday #14

Another week, another collection of buggy delights:

◊ A UK logger captures a woodwasp (horntail: Hymenoptera, Family Siricidae) at work…

◊ Ants are fascinating in themselves, but nature ups-the ante (so to speak) when it comes to the evolution of mymecophiles. Check out The Bizarre, Beetle-Biased World of Social Insect Exploitation at Scientific American blogs.

◊ And again from Scientific American blogs, a new weta species discovery, a weta that is already under threat.

Wotsa Weta? They’re the big flightless relatives of crickets and grasshoppers (Order Orthoptera) that live in New Zealand. Weta are the icons of  the Weta Workshop and Weta Digital,  the companies involved in special effects for the new The Hobbit. The Unexpected Journey movie that was released last week)


◊ Ed Yong over at Not Exactly Rocket Science features another post on bugs, this time on the fossil of an 110 million year old trash carrying lacewing larva. See the science at: De La Fuente, Delcios, Penalver, Speranza, Wierzchos, Ascaso & Engel. 2012. Early evolution and ecology of camouflage in insects. (Pay-per-view :( )

Ed also does a post on the amazing diversity of arthropods found in a small forest reserve in Panama. Check it out at Massive bug hunt reveals 25,000 arthropod species in a Manhattan-sized forest. Based on another pay-per-view article at Science, and see a slide show at National Geographic.

◊ Why Evolution is True starts a fly collection with The panoply of nature: more bizarre flies, and then follows it up with a Marvelous Spiny Ant.

Specimen: CASENT0178497. Species: Echinopla melanarctos. Photographer: April Nobile

My! Ain’t Nature splendorous?

◊ A little spider does something amazing on the web. Not in Charlotte’s distinguished hand, mind you, but an amazing bit of weaving here! See New Species of ‘Decoy’ Spider Likely Discovered At Tambopata Research Center (Hat-tip to BugGirl)

The decoy spider constructed out of leaves.Image by Phil Torres

Look at that stabilimentum for a moment…it has eight legs! Does this mean spiders can count?

◊ And to close, a visit to Biodiversity Photography, for those who are interested in extended tropical photography workshops that have a distinct macro slant. While I can’t personally vouch for the workshops provided here, this is certainly the place I would start investigating would I ever have the chance to do an Amazonian photography trip!






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Posted in arthropods, Bugs, Coleoptera, Diptera, Entomology, Habitat, invertebrates, Links, macro, Myrmecolphily, National Geographic, National Park, Orthoptera, photography, Video, Week on Sunday | Also tagged , , , , , , Comments Off

The Black Oil Beetle

With their slow movements, distended abdomens and their propensity for grass, oil beetles will forgive me for thinking that they are the insect equivalent of cows. Indeed for the short period that this specimen was kept in a pill bottle, it managed to eject a green liquid mass of partially digested plant bits (out of which end I did not observe) that would best be described as cud. But there is a more fascinating side to these grass-grazing beetles that belies their placid and lumbering bovinity — they secrete poison from the leg joints, the males have grappling hooks on the antennae, and the children are ruthless killers.

"The Black Oil Beetle, Meloe niger - Grasslands Provincial Park, Saskatchewan."

So bovinely sleek – The Black Oil Beetle,  Meloe niger

Oil beetles are so named because, when physically disturbed, they exude oily droplets of hemolymph from their joints. This secretion contains cantharidin, a poisonous chemical  that can cause a painful blistering (hence sometimes called ‘blister beetles’) on the skin. Certainly a handy defence when you are a fat, flightless beetle.

The lifecycle is an example of hypermetamorphosis, a variety of complete metamorphosis (holometabolism) with several distinct larval stages. After hatching, the larvae, called triungulinsactively climb plants to seek out a flower, where they will transfer to visiting bees. In Meloe franciscanus, the bees will cluster on a stem and secrete pheromones that attract male ground bees.  When the male tries to mate with the cluster, the triungulins scramble aboard. The male then moves on to mate with other real  female bees, and the triungulins can then transfer to those females. Now fertilized and loaded with larvae, she will carry the triungulins back to the nest, where the little blighters†, going through four instars, will proceed to consume the complete contents of the cell that she constructs and provisions, including the larvae. See the segment from Life in the Undergrowth below for the details of how some blister beetle triungulins  do their work. (This is probably Meloe franciscanus: see http://www.pnas.org/content/103/38/14039.full)

And the grappling-hook antennae? Male oil beetles use the hooks on the antennae to latch onto the females antennae during courtship. See an image of the antennae in use at BugGuide.

"Oil beetle, male antenna hook"

Oil beetle, male antennal hook

And don’t you think this would be a good choice for Alberta’s Provincial Beetle? ;)

For more on oil beetles see page 19 of: Alkali Bees. Their Biology and Management for Alfalfa Seed Production in the Pacific Northwest

Thanks to BugGuide for the ID

(Photographed 25 May, 2012. Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan)

†Not an entomological term, although it should be…

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Posted in Attenborough, Behaviour, Canada, Coleoptera, Insect, Meloidae, National Park, Phoresy, Saskatchewan, Season, Spring, White Studio | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments