The BugLady would like to dedicate this episode to the late (great) Cornell Professor Richard B. Fischer (January 19, 1919 – August 7, 2005) who taught the BugLady how to sneak up on insects (no bobbing or weaving, just slow and steady and straight ahead.
There are about 50 species of these Ripiphorid beetles in North America, and 30 of them are in the genus Ripiphorus. While the general outline of how the family operates has been charted, only one species in the genus Ripiphorus has been studied, and it’s assumed that the other 29 follow the same general pattern.
Chrysomelid beetles are vegetarians for their whole lives, eating a variety of plant tissues above and below the ground. Their numbers include some serious plant pests like the Colorado potato beetle and the asparagus beetle, and also some species that are used as biological controls. It’s a huge group, with almost 2,000 species in North America alone. Chrysomelids generally produce a single generation per year; most overwinter as adults and hit the ground running in spring.
Today we feature three bugs about whom not too much information is circulating, other than their presence in museum collections and on state/regional biodiversity lists. If they have anything in common, it’s that all three are odd little insects.
Click Beetles (family Elateridae), a.k.a snapping beetles or skipjacks. About a tenth of the world’s 9,300 species live in North America, occupying most habitats except very cold and very wet ones, and deserts.
Time to celebrate three more unsung bugs—bugs about whom little is written and whose internet presence is mostly limited to species/collection/biodiversity lists, and to whom we will give their 15 minutes of fame. Remember—there are more than 100,000 species of insects on this continent north of the Rio Grande, many that are difficult to distinguish from their close relatives and that are lacking both common names and biographies.
It’s time again for the Annual “Twelve Bugs of Christmas” event (and, coincidentally, episode #350 in the series, by the BugLady’s numbering). Here are a (Baker’s) dozen insects that will not be getting (or who have already had) their own BOTWs. Feel free to hum along, and have a lovely Holiday.
Tiger Beetles (family Cicindelidae) are a pretty spiffy family of beetles; some are green, some brown to maroon, some have patterns (which can be variable within a species) and some don’t, and the ghost tiger beetle is, well, ghostly. They have long legs and similar shapes. There about 2,600 species worldwide; more than 100 in North America. They typically like semi-bare, open habitats with loose/sandy soils.
The Osmoderma are Hermit Flower beetles in the scarab family Scarabaeidae, a family that includes rhinoceros, dung, fig, June beetles, and more. Adult Osmoderma beetles (from the Greek osme – smell, and derma – skin) are sap feeders and their larvae are found in the center of dead/dying hardwood trees.
The BugLady thinks it’s a Ragweed Leaf Beetle (Zygogramma suturalis), if not, it’s a Calligrapha bidenticola, the two species are “easily distinguished” by a good look at the tarsal claws and at the color of the folded, ventral edge of the elytra. Both are found from the Great Plains to the Atlantic and both have similar food preferences. There are about 100 species in the genus Zygogramma, but only a dozen or so live north of the Rio Grande.