Photo Friday – A horned beauty
November 2, 2012
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I’m still not entirely sure how this little fellow caught my eye – he was resting on the rough bark of a maple tree, blending almost perfectly.
Maybe he sneezed, or something.
Either way, he’s probably one of my favorite finds of the summer, partially because it’s a “new-to-me” species, and partially because…well, just LOOK at him:
Male Forked Fungus Beetle, Bolitotherus cornutus
Is that not one of the most adorable little faces you’ve ever seen? The little upturned “nose”! But the fancy adornments on the thorax of this male forked fungus beetle (Bolitotherus cornutus) are what makes him stand out from the crowd:
These Darkling beetles (family Tenebrionidae) like to hang out on shelf fungi on maple and poplar trees, and are mostly active at night. Only the males sport these fuzzy-tufted “horns”. I have scoured the literature and can’t find a single conclusive answer for their purpose. I suspect they’re partially for fighting with or expressing superiority over other males, but the hairs suggest some kind of sensory function. I really don’t know, and would love it if anyone could shed some light on these structures.
An another note, I just wanted to tell you that I’m on the Entomology conference circuit for the next two weeks! I’ll be attending and speaking at the Entomological Society of Canada and the Entomological Society of America meetings. If any of you are coming, I’d love to know! Send me a tweet at @GeekInQuestion :) (Also, once these talks are finished, I’m going to FINALLY get around to updating you all on my research a bit – it’s been a productive couple of months!)