Aliens in the Midden

While searching for arthropod subjects to photograph on Steve’s property, we decided to check the compost/midden pile and found something completely unexpected.

gold-and-brown-rove-beetle-staphylinidae-ontholestes-cingulatus, Farmington, MO
Gold and Brown Rove Beetle – Staphylinidae-Ontholestes cingulatus, Farmington, MO

These beetles were crazy to watch – super speedy while flipping their gold-tipped abdomens over their backs in display.  These guys yield even more support to my contention that the vast majority of ideas used in the sci-fi genre (particularly the creature-features) were taken from somewhere within the natural world.

gold-and-brown-rove-beetle-staphylinidae-ontholestes-cingulatus-img_6903
Gold and Brown Rove Beetle – Staphylinidae-Ontholestes cingulatus, Farmington, MO

Check out those chompers!

gold-and-brown-rove-beetle-staphylinidae-ontholestes-cingulatus-img_6900
Gold and Brown Rove Beetle – Staphylinidae-Ontholestes cingulatus, Farmington, MO

-OZB

From the Network that Brought You Tiny House Nation…

…comes the newest in reality based, sustainable living instructional programming: Corruption Construction! 

In a previous post I wrote a bit about the Warty Leaf Beetle (Neochlamisus gibbosus), a member of the Cryptocephalinae subfamily.  Fascinating due to the fact that the adult form seems to be a perfect mimic of caterpillar frass, this species is much more interesting than I had imagined.

Warty Leaf Beetle - Chrysomelidae - Neochlamisus gibbosus. Adult hotographed at Shaw Nature Reserve
Warty Leaf Beetle – Chrysomelidae – Neochlamisus gibbosus. Adult photographed at Shaw Nature Reserve, MO.

This species is highly, if not solely, associated with blackberry as a host plant.  While watching these guys and looking for other insects on these plants I kept noticing gall-like structures, usually on the undersides of the leaves.

Warty Leaf Beetle - Chrysomelidae - Neochlamisus gibbosus. Larval scatoshell. Photographed at Shaw Nature Reserve, MO.
Warty Leaf Beetle – Chrysomelidae – Neochlamisus gibbosus. Larval scatoshell. Photographed at Shaw Nature Reserve, MO.

Paying closer attention, I noticed that these structures were not galls, nor were they attached directly to the plant tissue – they moved.  On closer inspection, I could sometimes see the legs of the creature that resided within the house.

Warty Leaf Beetle - Chrysomelidae - Neochlamisus gibbosus
Warty Leaf Beetle – Chrysomelidae – Neochlamisus gibbosus.   Larval scatoshell. Photographed at Shaw Nature Reserve, MO.

I had to crack one open to see if I could get an idea of what sort of organism built and resided within.  As you can see in the photograph below, the animal appeared to be a beetle larvae.

Warty Leaf Beetle - Chrysomelidae - Neochlamisus gibbosus
Warty Leaf Beetle – Chrysomelidae – Neochlamisus gibbosus.  Larvae exposed from within its scatological residence.  Photographed at Shaw Nature Reserve, MO.

It took me a while to put it together, but eventually I confirmed that the larvae belonged to the same species as the adult beetles that I observed all over the blackberries.  My next question was, on what materials did the larvae use to build its shelter?  Usually, an insect will use detritus or perhaps fresh plant tissue that it processes to make a protective enclosure like this.  These guys do it a bit differently.

It starts with mom.  As she oviposits, she encases each egg with a layer of her own feces and some rectal secretions.  As the larvae hatches and grows, it continues to expand its home by building with its own feces to accommodate its increasing bulk.  Here is a photo of an adult and larvae close together.

Warty Leaf Beetle - Chrysomelidae - Neochlamisus gibbosus
Warty Leaf Beetle – Chrysomelidae – Neochlamisus gibbosus

References and Further Reading

 

From the Garden – Redbud Bruchid

Redbud Bruchid
Redbud Bruchid

The Redbud Bruchid (Gibbobruchis mimus), as its name suggests, is one of those perfect examples of insect-plant specialization.  The larvae of this species will only grow on the seeds of Redbud trees and perhaps on those of a relative or two.

Redbud Bruchid
Redbud Bruchid

Being extremely small (2.5 – 3 mm), these cute guys are quite the challenge to photograph.  Adults feed on plant tissues (flower petals, pollen, nectar, etc…) and I typically have seen them feeding on my Echinacea flowers.

Redbud Bruchid
Redbud Bruchid

The guy above can be seen creating or adding to a hole in a flower petal.  I much prefer them to the exotic invasive Japanese Beetles that tend to leave nothing behind.

Redbud Bruchid
Redbud Bruchid

The Bruchids are a subfamily or “tribe” found within the quite large family – the Chrysomelidae, known as “Leaf Beetles”.

Redbud Bruchid
Redbud Bruchid

If you know the size of an individual blossom of the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), the image above will give you a good idea on just how small these little guys are.

Thanks for stopping by.
OZB

The Soldier

Soldier Beetle
Soldier Beetle

Most soldier beetles are true opportunists when it comes to tucker.  While not being the most efficient pollinators, these beetles can be found around almost any flowers from mid to late summer where they feed on nectar, pollen and small insects like aphids and ants.  This one was photographed on my common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

Thanks for stopping by.

OZB
email: handsomeozarkbillyboy@gmail.com