Thursday, May 14, 2015

Beetle Trapped In Amber For 52 Million Years -
Social Parasitism exemplified.

A 52-million-year old beetle was able to live alongside ants—preying on their eggs and usurping resources all within the comfort of their host's nest. Through ways that scientists are still trying to understand, Clavigeritae beetles are able to pass through ant defenses and integrate seamlessly into colony life.

Clavigeritae beetles interacting with host ants in Peru. A Crematogaster worker ant carries a Fustiger beetle (right) while another beetle (left, with mite on abdomen) orients its body to allow a second worker ant to lick its trichomes. 
Credit: © Takashi Komatsu

© Delbert La Rue 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nearctic Amaeoderini Checklist
Metallic Wood-boring Beetles (Buprestidae): Polycestinae

Corrections, omissions, typos, etc., requested.

Genus ACMAEODERA Eschscholtz 1829
Buprestis (Acmaeodera) Eschscholtz 1829:9.
Acmaeodera: Dejean 1833:75.
Type species: Buprestis cylindrica Fabricius 1775 (fixed by subsequent designation).

acanthicola Barr 1972a:177.
acuta LeConte 1860b:224.
adenostomae Cazier 1938b:137.
adenostomensis Knull 1941c:691.
alacris Horn 1878:25.
alicia Fall 1899:29.
alpina Barr 1972a:173.
amabilis Horn 1878:7.
amplicollis LeConte 1866:383.
angelica Fall 1899:16.
atactospilota Westcott 1971:7.
audreyae Westcott & Barr 2007:56.
auritincta Fall 1922:88.
aurora Fall 1922:88.
bacchariphaga Westcott & Verity 1977:149.
barri Cazier 1940b:58.
bishopiana Fall 1907a:240.
bivulnera Horn 1894:371.
bowditchi Fall 1901b:307.
bryanti Van Dyke 1953b:104.
carlota Fall 1931:81.
cazieri Knull 1960c:6.
ceanothae Nelson 1967b:57.
chiricahuae Barr 1972a:146.
chuckbellamyi MacRae 2014:50
comata LeConte 1858b:70.
condita Barr 1972a:171.
connexa LeConte 1859b:71.
conoidea Fall 1899:31.
consors Horn 1878:20.
          syn. montezuma Obenberger 1924g:35.
          syn. perforata Cazier 1940a:17.
constricticollis Knull 1937c:301.
constrictinotum Westcott & Nelson 2000:305.
convicta Fall 1899:11.
          syn. papagonis Duncan 1934a:231.
coquilletti Fall 1899:15.
cribricollis Horn 1894:375.
          syn. larreae Fall 1907a:241.
cuneata Fall 1899:21.
curtilata Knull 1941c:692.
davidsoni Barr 1972a:179.
decipiens LeConte 1866:383.
          syn. durangana Obenberger 1928l:120.
delumbis Horn 1894:378.
depressa Barr 1972a:162.
deviata Barr 1972a:151.
diffusa Barr 1969b:13.
discalis Cazier 1940a:24.
disjuncta Fall 1899:9.
dolorosa Fall 1899:25.
      ssp. liberta Fall 1922:89.
ephedrae Barr 1943:113.
errans Barr 1972a:170.
fattigi Knull 1953:144.
fenyesi Fall 1899:12.
flavomarginata (Gray) 1832:358 (Buprestis).
          syn. contigua Kerremans 1897a:42.
          syn. proxima Waterhouse 1889a:178.
flavopicta Waterhouse 1889a:180.
          syn. flavosticta Waterhouse 1882a:24.
          syn. subcyanea Fall 1899:8.
          syn. falli Kerremans 1902b:34.
flavosticta Horn 1878:15.
gibbula LeConte 1858b:69.
          syn. gila Knull 1930b:16.
gillespiensis Knull 1941a:98.
griffithi Fall 1899:36.
haemorrhoa LeConte 1858b:69.
          syn. bouvieri Kerremans 1906c:120.
hepburnii LeConte 1860b:254.
holsteni White 1939:71.
horni Fall 1899:25.
idahoensis Barr 1969c:331.
immaculata Horn 1878:19.
          syn. eburna Van Dyke 1949:53.
inopinata Barr 1972a:149.
inyoensis Cazier 1940a:18.
jocosa Fall 1899:14.
knowltoni Barr 1969c:328.
knullorum Barr 1972a:155.
labyrinthica Fall 1899:21.
laticollis Kerremans 1902b:28.
latiflava Fall 1907a:240.
          syn. pallidula Kerremans 1910b:269.
      ssp. lineipicta Fall 1931:81.
ligulata Cazier 1940a:20.
linsleyi Van Dyke 1943:101.
lupinae Nelson 1996b:176.
macra Horn 1878:8.
maculifera Horn 1894:372.
marginenotata Chevrolat 1867:583.
mariposa Horn 1878:22.
      ssp. dohrni Horn 1878:15.
          syn. bernardino Van Dyke 1937:109.
miliaris Horn 1878:10.
mimicata Knull 1938c:136.
mixta LeConte 1860b:227.
          syn. arizonae Horn 1878:19.
          syn. obesa Kerremans 1910b:271.
mojavei Westcott 1971:14.
morbosa Fall 1899:20.
navajo Nelson & Westcott 1995:82.
neglecta Fall 1899:31.
nelsoni Barr 1972a:175.
neoneglecta Fisher 1949:336.
nevadica Barr 1972a:158.
nexa Fall 1922:89.
nigrovittata Van Dyke 1934:61.
obtusa Horn 1878:19.
          syn. anthobia Obenberger 1924g:33.
opacula LeConte 1858b:69.
opuntiae Knull 1966a:332.
ornata (Fabricius) 1775:220 (Buprestis).
          syn. dispar Gory 1840:31.
          syn. quatuordecimspilota Obenberger 1917n:55.
ornatoides Barr 1972a:167.
panamintensis Westcott 1971:17.
paradisjuncta Knull 1940a:36.
parkeri Cazier 1940a:22.
perlanosa Timberlake 1939:179.
pinalorum Knull 1930b:15.
plagiaticauda Horn 1878:10.
          syn. postica Fall 1899:25.
          syn. verecunda Barr 1972a:153.
pletura Barr 1972a:164.
princeps Kerremans 1909d:591.
          syn. flavinigrapunctata Knull 1928:314.
prorsa Fall 1899:23.
pubiventris Horn 1878:9.
      ssp. lanata Horn 1880:148.
          syn. biedermani Skinner 1903b:239.
      ssp. panocheae Westcott 2001a:176.
      ssp. yumae Knull 1937c:301.
pulchella (Herbst) 1801:211 (Buprestis).
          syn. ornata (Olivier) 1790a:50 (Buprestis).
          syn. flavosignata Gory 1840:30.
          syn. arizonae Horn 1878:19.
pullata Cazier 1940b:57.
purshiae Fisher 1926a:114.
quadriseriata Fall 1899:18.
quadrivittata Horn 1870:79.
quadrivittatoides Nelson & Westcott 1995:77.
recticollis Fall 1899:13.
recticolloides Westcott 1971:3.
reflexa Barr 1992:74.
resplendens Van Dyke 1937:106.
retifera LeConte 1859b:72.
riograndei Nelson 1980b:175.
robigo Knull 1954a:27.
robusta Horn 1878:9.
rubrocuprea Westcott & Nelson 2000:302.
rubronotata Laporte & Gory 1835:5.
          syn. sparsa Horn 1878:11.
sabinae Knull 1937a:15.
scalaris Mannerheim 1837:25.
          syn. semivittata LeConte 1858b:69.
serena Fall 1899:16.
simulata Van Dyke 1937:108.
          syn. nautica Van Dyke 1945:106.
sinuata Van Dyke 1919a:152.
      ssp. sexnotata Van Dyke 1919a:153.
solitaria Kerremans 1897a:40.
          syn. interrupta Kerremans 1897a:41.
          syn. daggetti Fall 1899:26.
          syn. mexicana Kerremans 1900a:310.
          syn. thoracica Kerremans 1910b:268.
sphaeralceae Barr 1972a:166.
starrae Knull 1966a:334.
subbalteata LeConte 1863a:82.
tenebricosa Fall 1922:90.
texana LeConte 1860b:228.
thoracata Knull 1974:143.
tildenorum Nelson & Westcott 1995:85.
tiquilia Westcott & Barr 1998:53.
tubulus (Fabricius) 1801:200 (Buprestis).
          syn. quatuordecimguttata (Fabricius) 1801:209           (Buprestis).
          syn. culti (Weber) 1801:75 (Buprestis).
          syn. geranii (Harris) 1830:2 (Buprestis).
          syn. modesta Laporte & Gory 1835:20.
tuta Horn 1878:11.
          syn. rubrosuffusa Fall 1907a:240.
          syn. duboisi Cazier 1938b:138.
          syn. moronga Van Dyke 1943:102.
uvaldensis Knull 1936:73.
vanduzeei Van Dyke 1934:23.
          syn. fisheri Cazier 1940a:19.
          syn. vermiculata Knull 1947b:174.
          syn. nanbrownae Figg-Hoblyn 1953:219.
vandykei Fall 1899:23.
variegata LeConte 1852:67.
          syn. lucia Fall 1901b:307.
          syn. distincta Kerremans 1902b:29.
verityi Westcott 1971:11.
vernalis Barr 1972a:160.
vulturei Knull 1938d:228.
wenzeli Van Dyke 1919a:154.
wheeleri Van Dyke 1919a:155.
wickenburgana Knull 1939:28.
xanthosticta Laporte & Gory 1835:4.
          syn. bisseptemguttata Marsuel 1867:48.
          syn. amazonica Nonfried 1895:303.
          syn. confusa Fisher 1925b:41.
yuccavora Knull 1962:2.

Genus ACMAEODEROIDES Van Dyke 1942

Acmaeoderoides Van Dyke 1942:108.
Type species: Acmaeodera insignis Horn 1894
(fixed by monotypy).

cazieri Nelson 1968c:137.
confusus Nelson 1999:371.
depressus Nelson 1968c:136.
distinctus Nelson 1968c:129.
ferruginis Wellso & Nelson (Nelson 1968c:132)
humeralis (Cazier) 1938b:12 (Acmaeodera).
insignis (Horn) 1894:377 (Acmaeodera).
knulli Nelson 1968c:139.
rossi (Cazier) 1937:115 (Acmaeodera).
          syn. balli (Knull) 1937c:302 (Tyndaris).
rufescens Nelson 1968c:144.
stramineus Nelson 1968c:142.
verityi Nelson 1968c:133.

[includes Neotropic species]
Acmaeoderopsis Barr 1974:11.
Type species: Acmaeodera junki Théry 1929
(fixed by original designation).

chisosensis (Knull) 1952b:349 (Acmaeodera).
guttifera (LeConte) 1859b:72 (Acmaeodera).
          syn. versuta (Horn) 1878:21     (Acmaeodera).
hassayampae (Knull) 1961:80 (Acmaeodera).
hualpaiana (Knull) 1952b:349 (Acmaeodera).
hulli (Knull) 1928:315 (Acmaeodera).
jaguarina (Knull) 1938c:135 (Acmaeodera).
junki (Théry) 1929e:115 (Acmaeodera).
          syn. squamosa (Van Dyke) 1919:186   (Acmaeodera).
      ssp. peninsularis (Barr) 1972a:192            (Acmaeodera).
paravaripilis (Barr) 1972a:189 (Acmaeodera).
prosopis Davidson 2006:214.
rockefelleri (Cazier) 1951b:9 (Acmaeodera).
vaga (Barr) 1972a:191 (Acmaeodera).
varipilis (Van Dyke) 1934:62 (Acmaeodera).
westcotti (Barr) 1972a:186 (Acmaeodera).

Genus ANAMBODERA Barr 1974
Anambodera Barr 1974:9.
Type species: Acmaeodera gemina Horn 1878
(fixed by original designation).

clarki Westcott 2001c:131.
gemina (Horn) 1878:23, 26 (Acmaeodera).
lucernae (Knull) 1973:299 (Acmaeodera).
lucksani Walters 1982:180.
nebulosa (Horn) 1894:376 (Acmaeodera).
palmarum (Timberlake) 1939:181 (Acmaeodera).
santarosae (Knull) 1960b:322 (Acmaeodera)

                                             © Delbert La Rue 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chasing Beetles, Finding Darwin

"... From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

~ Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, 1859

It's been over 150 years since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Yet, his ideas remain as central to scientific exploration as ever.

Duration: 26:46

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A bit of entomological humor ...

From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday, August 14, 2014

From Fly Times Newsletter, Issue #39, October, 2007 
Cartoon from the twisted mind of the author.

© Delbert La Rue 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Comments on curation:
Materials for pinning Coleoptera.

Curation, as considered here, the pinning, labeling and storing of insect specimens, is an art, a virtuosity. In my humble opinion, a dying art. Curation, like a lot of things we attempt, is a skill one can only improve by doing. Of course, one must first be able to discern what a well curated specimen is.

In prior posts, I emphasized the importance of accurate, concise specimen data. Whether you collect for the science, the desire to discover new species and add to the knowledge of distributions, biology, and taxonomy, or, you collect for the aesthetics, the intrinsic beauty of a drawer or schmitt box of tiger beetles or butterflies, without reliable data the specimens are scientifically worthless. As they say, it depends on which side of the fence you’re on. Most of us are aware of and avoid those collectors who intentionally provide vague cryptic data with their specimens in an attempt to protect collecting sites from other potential collectors, for monetary gain, or merely to boast they have the largest series of a particular species. 

Since my collecting efforts are primarily for coleoptera, here, and in following posts, I discuss how to properly pin (colloquially referred to as “mount”) those types of specimens. For other insect orders, Orthoptera, Lepidoptera or Odonata for example, the reader should explore the internet for relevant websites explaining the pinning conventions for those specimens.

A “mounting or setting board” is a small piece of high density, closed-cell foam at least 1-inch in thickness. Rectangular pieces of blue or pink foam insulation are ideal. However, other types of foam insulation will work, even pieces of foam packing used to brace computers, televisions, and other electronics during shipment will do in a pinch.

Image credit: NaturePlus Beetle Blog

Cover the setting board surface with a sheet of bond-type copy paper (recycle those printing debacles from the trash). The purpose of which is to prevent the tarsal claws of specimens clinging to the surface of the insulation and breaking off when removing the dried, set specimen.

 Insect pins are like brushes to painters - buy quality. There has been considerable debate on which are the best insect pins especially since the classic Elephant brand is no longer being produced. I do not recommend trying to pinch pennies here. Since the demise of Elephant brand, I have been using and recommend the “Koštál” brand produced in the Czech Republic.

Insect pins are about 1.5-inches (37 mm) in length and graduated according to gauge (= thickness) by a series of numbers, 000 - 7. The lower the number, the smaller the gauge. Always use proportionately sized pins to the specimen being pinned. That is, a number one or two pin would be suitable for a small buprestid or tiger beetle; a number three for a large cerambycid.

The pins are available in two finishes or coatings: black enameled or stainless steel. Stainless steel are recommended for use in humid tropical climates as a rust deterrent; not much of a concern here in the southwest. Their cost is usually a few dollars more per pack of 100 than the black enameled.

Image credit:

For very small beetles (< 5mm), I prefer the “double mount” method using minutens, short pins, 12 mm in length, without heads. The specimen is pinned as usual (through the upper right elytron), then inserted into a small rectangular piece of poly foam, preferably plastazote. Pinning requires a certain amount of patience and dexterity while working under a microscope or optivisor. 

Image credit:
Of course, there is the traditional “point” method using some type of adhesive (PVA glue or clear fingernail polish) to attach the specimen to the tip of a small paper triangle. Depending on the amount of adhesive used, the mount may be problematic.

Double-mount pinning method for very small Coleoptera

I do not advocate the use of “glue boards” (Aufklebeplattchen), a European method of mounting specimens, mainly because once the specimen is glued in place, it is impossible to examine beneath the specimen that may have  diagnostic characters (connate abdomeres, apical ridges, trochanter setae, emarginate mentum, etc.). To do so, you would have to relax and remove the glued specimen from the board, ... is that really something you would want to attempt with a series of specimens?

So then, for the average beetle specimen, here are the basics needed.

I suggest a pair of vial forceps” for removing specimens stored in alcohol.

Continued ...
Vial forceps from

© Delbert La Rue 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 8, 2014

What is it?
An Ant-mimicking Treehopper:
Cyphonia clavata Fabricius

Cyphonia clavata Fabricius
Cyphonia clavata Fabricius has been collected on Capirona (Calycophyllum spruceanum), on Jessamine (Censtrum lanatum), and on a Boneset (Eupatorium odoratum). The genus Cyphonia
(Membracidae:Smiliinae) is found from Mexico to Argentina.
Image credit:  Iwan Van Hoogmoed

© Delbert La Rue 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

60th Anniversary.
“A Review of the Mexican Tiger Beetles of the genus Cicindela
Mont A. Cazier 1954.

Although it has been 60 years since the publication of Cazier’s monumental tome “A Review of the Mexican Tiger Beetles of the genus Cicindela (Coleoptera:Cicindelidae)” it remains one of the most important references on New World Cicindelidae and an essential addition to any comprehensive tiger beetle library. As one would expect, the nomenclature of some species/subspecies has changed since its publication, but the adept tiger beetle aficionado should be familiar with current status and recognition. 

Cazier, M.A. 1954. A Review of the Mexican Tiger Beetles of the genus Cicindela (Coleoptera:Cicindelidae) Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 103(3):227-310 .pdf 

© Delbert La Rue 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Willcox Playa, Cochise County, Arizona:
"... We few, we happy few, we band of brothers ..."

          The author                                 Bob Duff                Dennis Fernandez   Denanthony Fernandez
                                                    Centipede wrangler                                     
                                                                 Front Row:         Ian Fernandez     Erris Fernandez

© Delbert La Rue 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Inexplicable Mojo of Tiger Beetles.

Horn's Tiger Beetle, Cicindela (Cicindelidia) hornii Schaupp.
A Rebuttal.

mo-jo - noun.
1. A magic charm, talisman, or spell.
2. Magic power.

Based on a recent perusal of current literature and various internet sources, it appears that some information concerning the behavior, seasonality, alleged rarity, and color forms of Cicindela (Cicindelidia) hornii Schaupp warrant further discussion. Apparently, a great deal of this information and supposition is based upon brief incidental field collections - or lack of - and observations. For most collectors and students of tiger beetles, this species is a fortuitous hit-or-miss opportunity - a collateral species. As a result, it carries an exaggerated distinction as being a rare and highly coveted species.

Typical habitat of Cicindelidia hornii Schaupp
Upper Sonoran Mesquite-Grassland
Sulphur Springs Valley, Cochise County, Arizona
Alleged rarity. 
The term rare is so commonly used (= misused) in entomology, that in fact, it has lost its connotation. Remember, when dealing with things biological - anything is possible. Consider that beetles, and insects in general, emerge and become active when a certain combination of physiological and environmental stimuli are reached (for example, moisture, temperature, humidity) indicative of phenotypic plasticity: any change in an organism’s characteristics in response to an environmental signal (Schlichting and Smith 2002:190).

In southwestern North America, moisture, in the form of either winter rain or summer monsoons, is an essential factor in this equation. Without this necessary moisture insects may delay their emergence for several months or years. My point being, there are prevailing factors that influence, or deter, fecundity (abundance), of an organism - despite the exhortations of frustrated collectors.

Another habitat photo of Cicindelidia hornii Schaupp
Upper Sonoran Mesquite-Grassland
Sulphur Springs Valley, Cochise County, Arizona
Behavior & Seasonality. 
In southeast Arizona, C. hornii emerges during the summer monsoon that typical begins in late June or early July. It is best described as an ephemeral species because it is active while the soil remains damp after rainfall. Once this moisture evaporates, it disappears along with several other sympatric species, such as Cicindela pulchra dorothea Rumpp (below, left). Cicindelidia hornii typically occurs in grassy pastures and roadsides where it will hide in the shade beneath grass clumps or other vegetation during morning to mid-day hours or seen running in open areas in search of prey.

Cicindela pulchra dorothea Rumpp
Polymorphism: Color Variation.
Polymorphism is the occurrence of more than one color form, or morph, in the same population of a species. Of the various publications and websites that display images of C. hornii, usually only one or two color forms are illustrated. Based on specimens in my collection, iridescent metallic blue, blue-green head and pronota with purple elytra, blue-green to green, and black are represented. The latter melanistic form being the most commonly encountered. Although anecdotal, from my field observations, it appears that the more brilliantly colored individuals appear earlier in the season. Victor E. Shelford, in his treatise, Color and color-pattern mechanism of Tiger Beetles (1917), noted that tiger beetle coloration was influenced, in part, by climatic conditions.

Color variation of Cicindelidia hornii Schaupp:
blue, bluegreen head & pronota with purple elytra, bluegreen-green, black.
Sulphur Springs Valley, Cochise County, AZ

Literature Cited

Schlichting, C. D., and H. Smith. 2002. Phenotypic plasticity: linking molecular mechanisms with evolutionary outcomes. Evolutionary Ecology 16:189–211

Shelford, V. E. 1917. Color and color-pattern mechanism of tiger beetles, with twenty-nine black and three colored plates.Volume Illinois Biological Monographs Vol.3: No. 4

                                                          Other Suggested Reading

Bertholf, J.K. 1979 (MS Thesis). Tiger Beetles of the genus Cicindela in Arizona (Coleoptera:Cicindelidae). 1983 (paperbound edition). Texas Tech University Special Publications, Texas Tech Press, Lubbock, Texas. #19:1-44.  .pdf 
Schultz, T.D., and N. F. Hadley. 1987. Structural Colors of Tiger Beetles and Their Role in Heat Transfer through the Integument. Physiological Zoology. 60 (6):737-745

                                           © Delbert La Rue 2014. All Rights Reserved.