Nature at Green Art

 

Beetles (Coleoptera)

 

Creating a refuge for native plants and animals

These are beetles I found on my property, which consists of gardens, hedges, and 2 acres of forest. I take great pride in every species I can add to these pages, both for the achievement of having taken pictures as well as for the joy of being rewarded for the effort to attract these animals and providing them a sanctuary. The names of species are bold printed, the families are bold printed and underlined. Each time a new family is listed I switch the sides for pictures and text. All images can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Scarabs (family Scarabeidae) are one of largest and the most diverse groups of beetles, and includes some of the biggest insects this planet has to offer.

The beautiful Black Flower Scarab (Osmoderma scabra) with a leathery textured skin was sitting on the stump of a fallen oak. The larvae are found in dying hardwood trees and need 3 or more years to develop.

When i came close with my hand this fearless creature was actually fighting me off, trying to pry me hand off the ground!
The Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica) is an alien species introduced to New Jersey in 1916 and has, due to lack of predators, become one of the most abundant beetles in the east of the United States.

 

A good way to identify this species is to look for the 5 patches of white hair on the side of the abdomen
It is a terrible pest that skeletonizes the foliage of a wide range of host plants, including many ornamentals such as roses, hops, grapevine, Hollyhock and many others. The grubs live in the ground and eat roots of herbaceous plants and lawn grasses.
Like the Japanese Beetle, the genus Anomala belongs to a subfamily of the Scarabs called Shining Leaf Chafers, however, these small beetles are rather un-shiny. Of the 40 species found in North America, most are brown or grey and some have short hair on their undersides and even on their backs.
The Oriental Beetle (Anomala orientalis), like the Japanese Beetle, is an alien pest that was introduced around one hundred years ago. The feeding habits of both adults and larvae are also similar. This species is quite variable in coloration. The most typical forms look like the on on the left.


The males of the Red-Brown Stag Beetle (Lucanus capreolus) carry strong antler-like mandibles which are weapons to fight off competing males. They can also pinch but only do so if they feel threatened.

Eggs are deposited in decaying wood where the larvae develop for at least two years.

The family of the Stag Beetles (Lucanidae) has a much greater distribution in warmer climates.

I felt sorry for my Stag Beetle and offered him soft banana moistened with water, which he thankfully accepted. He sucked up tiny amounts before taking a nap.



The Family of the Carrion Beetles (Silphidae) contains species that deposit their eggs in carcasses of small animals, where the larvae feed. The adults feed mostly on fly maggots that are also found in the carcasses.

The Burying Beetle Nicrophorus tomentosus on the left carries a number of mites on its back. At first I felt sorry for this beetle for being bothered by these little parasites. To my astonishment, I read that these mites actually protect the beetle from parasitic flies, whose eggs they consume before they can hatch and bury themselves into the Burying Beetle to devour it from the inside. Nature is so complicated!



The Brown Leatherwing (Cantharis sp.) belongs to the Soldier Beetle family (Cantharidae).

Beetles in this family prey on eggs and larvae of other insects, such as aphids. This species is also an effective pollinator. However, all beetles in this family secrete defensive chemicals. In some species, especially in warmer climates, these are so potent that they can cause burns and blisters on the skin (hence the name Blister Beetle) 



Longhorn Beetles (Cerambycidae) are elongated beetles with long antenna. The larvae of many species of this family bore into decaying wood or attack living trees. Many of the adult Longhorn beetles can be seen on flowers, eating nectar or pollen. Some, like the Northeastern Pine Sawyer (Monochamus notatus) are attracted to light. The antennae of this species are almost double as long as the body. These are fast-moving beetles that are hard to capture on photo.
The White-spotted Sawyer (Monochamus scutellatus) is well camouflaged on the bark of a spruce tree. It is darker than the above species and has a white scutellum (the horse-shoe shaped dot behind the thorax). Larvae live in dead and dying trees, especially pines. If two larvae meet one often eats the other.
Graphisurus fasciatus is well camouflaged when moving about on tree bark. The best way to find it is near lights in the night. The larvae are boring into hardwood. Note the large ovipositor of the females.

The Rustic Borer (Xylotrechus colonus) belongs to the subfamily of the Round-necked Longhorns(Cerambycinae). Larvae make tunnels under the bark of dying hardwoods.
Another Round-necked longhorn species is Clytus ruricola, which I found feeding on the flowers of a golden-leaved Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolia). This beetles strategy for survival is not to blending in with its surroundings but to standing out. It is a wasp mimic. Potential predators avoid insects that resemble wasps. Many other insects, such as certain flies, also mimic the appearance of wasps, bees, and bumble bees.
The beautiful Strangalia luteicornis also features the vivid black and yellow coloration of wasps. The larvae bore into hardwood, while adults are frequently seen of flowers.

To provide food and shelter for the uncountable species of insects I placed several large piles of waste wood on my property.

The female of Strangalia luteicornis has a particularly slender body and the ovipositor is visible behind the wings.

Like Strangalia, the Banded Longhorn (Typocerus velutinus) also belongs to a sub-group of Longhorn beetles that is mostly active by day, visiting flowers to eat pollen. These beetles (subfamily Lepturinae) typically have a body with 'broad shoulders' tapering to the end of the abdomen.

 

The larvae of the Banded Longhorn also bore into hardwoods, especially decaying oak and Hickory.  The adult is often seen feeding on the flowers of the parsley family, such as Queen-Anne's Lace (Daucus carota).

Metacmaeops vittata is a smaller species of Flower-Longhorns. The larvae feed on Tulip Poplar and Chestnut.


Leaf Beetles (Chrysomelidae) are a large and diverse group with more than 1,700 species known in North America alone. They are usually small, colorful beetles whose larvae feed on foliage, sometimes on roots. Most Leaf Beetles are specialized eaters who depend on certain species of food plants.

I found the tiny Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) in the autumn on the petals of Nipponanthemum, which it was devouring.

The Asian Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii) is a very destructive pest of the true lilies (Lilium). It has no natural predators in North America and took the continent in a veritable blitz-attack that terribly mutilated some of our most beautiful flowers. Researchers work on the introduction of a predator.

Cryptocephalus quadruplex is one of hundreds of species of this genus, of which more than 70 are found in the U.S. and Canada. The larvae are said to live in leaf litter.

Plagiometriona clavata is one of several species of Tortoise Beetles, which are members of the Leaf Beetles. They are very difficult to spot when they crouch down on a leaf or stem of a plant, often resembling a plant part. This particular species has characteristic dark protrusions on its shell-like body.

I spotted the Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata) by following an object that flew by and appeared to be of glass. When it sat on a leaf it would have been invisible was it not for the glassy reflections. This beetle can change from metallic to non-metallic by filling microscopic cavities with fluid that causes different effects of reflection of light. This beetle was also very shy and flew off before I could properly position my camera. I only got an emergency shot.



Lady Beetles (Coccinellidae) are beneficial insects that nourish themselves from aphids. There are almost 500 species in North America and identification is not possible by just looking at the dots on their back, especially since some species vary greatly in their coloration.

The larvae of Lady Beetles (below left) are especially voracious, wandering around over foliage and devouring as many aphids as they can find. The image below shows a larva and a pupa. The latter starts resembling the adult beetle, being more rounded and showing some of the black dots.

The Asian Multicolored Ladybeetle (Harmonia axyridis) was introduced as a predator for aphids in 1916 and repeatedly thereafter, and has now spread over much of the continent. It varies greatly in coloration, as the three images on the left testify.
 
 


Fireflies (Lampyridae) are not flies but beetles, of which all larvae posses light-generating cells, and many, but not all species also generate light as adults. Often the light is used to attract mates.

 Our most common Fireflies belong to the genus Photinus, of which there are at least 34 species in North America. . 

The light-bearing segments are visible on the underside of the firefly.

Another common genus of fireflies is Ellychnia. These beetles are day-active and not capable of producing light. I found mine on a slice of orange that I placed on my porch to attract insects, but I have also seen them on flowers, sometimes several of them together.

 



Click Beetles (Elateridae) are quite similar in shape to Fireflies, but their bodies are harder and they possess a spine and a groove on their underside, which is a mechanism that allows them to snap up into the air to escape from predators.

The larvae are called wire worms and most species eat roots or rotting wood.

There are approximately 1,000 species in North America, and it is beyond my scope to try to identify the ones I found on my property so far. But I do hope to one day find the impressive Eye-Clickbeetle (Alaus oculatus) on my property, which is native to the east of North America.



The Oil Beetles (Meloe sp.) are members of the Blister Beetle family (Meloidae). Oil beetles are soil-dwellers with short wing covers and bloated abdomens. These flightless beetles are another example for the complexities of nature. The tiny grubs of these beetles are able to crawl onto flowers, where they hang on to a female bee (mostly wild bee species). When the bee returns to her nest the larva climbs off, turns into a sedentary grub and eats the pollen and nectar stored in the nest.



Mordella is one of the many tiny Tumbling Flower Beetles (Mordellidae) who can be found feeding on flowers.
There are over 250 species in North America. The larvae live in plant stems or rotting wood. Some feed on fungi.


Macrosiagon is easily mistaken for a Tumbling Flower Beetle but it belongs to the family of the Wedge-Shaped Beetles (Ripiphoridae).

This small beetle parasitizes solitary bees and wasps. The larvae attach themselves to these insects while they are visiting flowers. Once they have arrived at the nest the small beetle larva climbs off her host and gnaws her way into a bee or wasp larva to feed on it.

 

The Darkling Beetles (Tenebrionidae) are a large and diverse family. Many species of this family are known for their toughness and adaptability. Some species are found in the Sahara desert.

Alobates pennsylvanicus is a flightless species that is sometimes found under loose bark or in wood piles.



The family of the True Weevils (Curculionidae) contains more than 3000 species in North America. They are recognized by their snouts and also in many cases by their elbowed antenna. Weevils feed on plants, including seeds.



The Oak Timberworm (Arrhenodes minutus) belongs to the Straight-Snouted Weevils (Brentidae). I found mine sitting on an oak log when I worked on my firewood.

 

 

 

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