Tag Archives: Coleoptera

Up to her elbows in dung….

This is a showreel produced for Sarah Beynon, an Oxford entomologist. She’s into dung beetles, but there is also some interesting footage of the Sexton Beetle (see my photograph) and its breeding habits.

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Invader Carabid!

My first outdoor bug shot (in the white box) for 2012! This purple-rimmed Carabus (Carabus nemoralis  Muller, 1764) is also known as the European Ground Beetle.

"Carabus nemoralis, Purple rimmed carabus"

"Carabus nemoralis, Purple rimmed carabus"The elytra on this one was a dull bronze, an unusual sight for me, because I have only seen black specimens before. I noticed it was different immediately as it scurried out of the leaves I was raking in the front garden. The purple-rimmed carabus is a European import that is synanthropic, and not found in the wild.The Edmonton area seems to be an island in Alberta for this species, with only a few having been found outside of the city environs. They are a generalist feeder, taking slugs, snails, earthworms, as well as centipedes and millipedes. Reaching a size between 22 – 26mm, this is a good-sized ground beetle, capable of giving you a nip if handled incorrectly!



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Posted in Alberta, Canada, Carabidae, Coleoptera, Edmonton, macro | Also tagged , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Stag-jawed Carabid

This is the subject that epitomized my frustrations with my 180mm macro lens! The stag-jawed carabid is a fairly large beetle (25mm/1″) and trying to photograph it with the white-bowl technique with a long-focus macro lens and a single diffused flash was the height of frustration. This is the best front view to come out of the series, but the glare is terrible. This would have been a better candidate for the white-box treatment and a shorter macro lens, but I was in the field and had no other options at the time.

"Pasimachus elongatus, Purple-rimmed Carabid or Stag-jawed Carabid"


Pasimachus elongatus LeConte 1846 is a predatory ground beetle that is sometimes mistaken for a stag beetle, which are not found in Alberta at all. They can be distinguished from stag beetles in that the antenna have no elbow and there is no comb-like club at the end. They have a two-year life cycle, overwintering as adults or larvae. They are found…well, let John Acorn take over at this point: “To find this mean-looking, purple-trimmed marvel, go to a patch of bald-butt prairie where the soil is sandy. Then start looking under old fence posts or dried cow pies“¹. I found this one last September in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, scampering through the butt-bald badlands.

(Image re-edited 2 April, 2012)

¹Bugs of Alberta by John Acorn and illustrated by Ian Sheldon
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Posted in Alberta, Carabidae, Equipment, Lenses, macro, Provincial Park, Summer, White Studio | Also tagged , , , , , , , 4 Comments

Super Pupa.

"Zophobas morio, the" Superworm" beetle pupa"

A pupa of the ‘Superworm’ beetle, Zophobas morio - a Darkling beetle of the Tenebrionidae family.

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Schtinky Beetle

OK, its not Nicrophorus ‘schtinkii’, but rather Nicrophorus investigator. However, in the confines of my white bowl field studio, and perhaps magnified by parabolic reflection, this burying beetle was more than a little on the stinky side of odoriferous. But then, what else can you expect from a beetle that thrives in rotting flesh?

"Burying beetle, Nicrophorus investigator"

This one was perambulating (‘investigatoring‘?) across a path near the shores of the Milk River in southern Alberta, and I gently guided it into a plastic pill container (8 for a dollar, small and handy, I try to have a few in my pockets at all times) and took it back to camp. I gave it the white bowl treatment for these photographs, which show a few key points about Family Silphidae and the Nicrophorus genus. Working from left to right we see an exposed tushie  abdomen with 3 segments visible behind the elytra, which are short, truncate and black marked with orange. There is dense metasternal  pubescence.  The antenna have a club consisting of four segments, and in N. investigator the basal segment is black with the three apical segments orange. The life cycle of burying beetles is fascinating and I will go into that in a future post. For now I just want to point out the mite that is clinging under the head.

"mite on Nicrophorus invstigator"

This specimen had only one hanger-on, but they can often be found with a great deal more. The mites are phoretic, that is, they are only around for the ride. The burying beetles transport the mites to carrion, and the mites feed on the eggs and grubs that are already there. The beetle benefits because the mites are stripping the carcass of what could be competitors for the carrion on which the beetle grubs live.


Beetle I.D provided by Guy A. Hanley at BugGuide, with some help from Anderson, R.S. & Peck, S.,1985, The carrion beetles of Canada and Alaska: Coleoptera: Silphidae and Agyrtidae, Insects and Arachnids of Canada Handbook Series, 13, 121 (pdf) Page 94 Figs. 37, 38. showed the base of elytra of Nicrophorus species (dorsal view) N. hybridus and N. investigator, which would otherwise be difficult to distinguish from each other.

For more on burying beetles visit:

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Posted in Alberta, Anatomy, Blog Link, Canada, Coleoptera, Entomology, invertebrates, macro, Phoresy, Silphidae, White Studio | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

Longhorn Lost and Longhorns Gained…

This is a terrible photo…

"Cerambycidae, Longhorn Beetle"

Longhorn Beetle. The antennae are more than twice the body length!

This photograph was taken 2006. It was a late summer evening in a campground in northern Alberta. I was walking with my daughter to the washrooms when we came across this longhorn beetle on the nearby concrete. I noted that the antennae were snared by a spider’s web, but due to the urgency of the moment, I took a just quick snap with my zoom lens and then rushed off to answer the call. It was a dramatic find for me, and I rushed back to see if I could catch it and photograph it properly with a macro lens. Alas, it had disappeared, and my opportunity was lost. That was my last contact with a large longhorn beetle.


This morning, early and still bleary-eyed, I opened up my email to find the latest post from Ted MacRae. “Something for Adrian” was the title. Oh no! I thought, what entomological blunder did he find on my blog this time? It must be pretty d….d serious if he is making a blog post about it! With some apprehension I clicked on the link and….


A splendid display of Longhorns! Ted was preparing a shipment of North American Cerambycidae for a collector in Europe when he decided that this was a good time to quell my nagging and photograph the box prior to shipping it (quadruple registered, first class, I hope!).  Have a look at his site, and remember that this is just a fraction of his full collection. Look at the neat labeling…the dedication and patience is amazing when you consider it. Thanks Ted!

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Posted in Alberta, Bugs, Cerambycidae, Coleoptera | Also tagged 2 Comments