Archive for the 'Coleoptera' Category

Beetle rearing

July 8, 2010

Tour de France time! Amazed it has come around again already… doesn’t seem like a year since all those late nights watching the cycling on SBS. Anyway, inspired by the beetle rearing antics of Beetles in the Bush, I thought I would put some larva bearing twigs (or should that be twigs bearing larvae – either way conjures weird images in my head) into an old aquarium and see what eventually would emerge. I actually found these larvae by complete chance, when my little boy broke a twig against the back of my leg (!!), and I noticed a neat shavings plug where the pith would normally be. Being the big kid I am, I had to investigate further rather than just popping the twig in the tank and waiting. After a little excavating, I uncovered a rather chubby creamy white grub which I believed to be a moth larva. I encouraged the little chap back into its hole, put the twig in the aquarium and left it be.

A few days later I went back to check for progress, and much to my dismay the grub had popped back out of the twig and was on the tank floor. I decided to leave it there, rather than poking it even more. Turned out to be a great move, as I was able to watch the daily change as it underwent pupation! Due to its position in the tank, I couldn’t take photos – but it was still fun to see the developmental changes happen.

Well… it wasn’t a moth! Here is the final fruits of my first rearing experiment (well – more of just a wait than an experiment). A small (~7mm) Cerambycid beetle! A handheld camera, no flash and huge aperture aren’t conducive to a good macro photo, but you get the idea. Not sure on the ID, and for the time being It will have to wait. I have ants to point and cyclists to watch!

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Pitfall pleasures

April 17, 2010

Wow, things are busy at the moment. Lots of work on, including some research planning. Going to be having a look at Pheidole megacephala in far north queensland… I will go through a few of the specifics in a later entry. To cap it all off, my wife’s brother and his partner are visiting for a week (starting tomorrow), and my parents are visiting for 3 weeks just after that! Tying off loose ends with work, tidying, gardening and packing for 2 weeks R&R in the Daintree. It’s all happening!

One of the projects I’ve been helping with over the past few months involves pitfall traps, and lots of them! A friend is working on his phd looking at carabid ecophysiology, and modelling the future distributions of both the carabids and associated ant faunas with predicted climate change scenarios. I’ve been giving him a hand, sorting through the pitfall trap samples retrieved from various sites across the wet tropics. It’s not exactly glamourous work, but it’s more interesting than some might think. All kinds of weird and wonderful arthropods turn up, as well as the occasional microhylid (which I can’t help but feel a little sorry for – interesting that I don’t feel the same way about the arthropods).

One of the more interesting organisms were numerous Peripatus, or velvet worms. I’ve not read much about these, but did notice the unusual distribution of the two families of Onchophora on wikipedia. Wonder what caused it… I won’t post any photos of trapped velvet worms here. Lacking a hard cuticle, they usually don’t look too pleasant after a year of rather crude wet storage!

I haven’t yet had time to identify either of these beetles, but as I thought both were unusual (to me at least), here are a couple of photographs taken just prior to labeling. This first pic is of course, a tiger beetle, which was surprisingly abundant considering the dense rainforest location. I’m certainly no coleopterist, but I have always thought of tiger beetles as being inhabitants of fairly open, sandy habitats. All of those found are of the genus Distipsidera (largely tree trunk dwellers). I haven’t had a chance to go through the key and ID to species yet.

The second photo is of another beetle, this one a little larger, sporting rather cool translucent flanges on it’s elytra and thorax. I am unsure of the ID, but I believe it will belong to the Silphidae family.

I’m not sure how much I will be get to post in the coming weeks, but I will hopefully come back from the Daintree with some juicy photographs.