Flat Bark Beetle recycled
March 1, 2010
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Team Canada has won the gold medal that really counts (hockey), and all is once again right with the world.
We now resume our regularly scheduled geekery.
I found this little critter a week ago, and the lovely folks at BugGuide helped me identify it as the larva of Cucujus clavipes, the Red Flat Bark Beetle (Cucujidae). It was sluggish and sleepy with cold. Both the larvae and adults can be found under tree bark, where they prey on smaller arthopods.
This is a beetle I only started noticing last autumn; I found two or three adults in my firewood pile as we hauled many cords of logs into winter storage. There are only three species of Cucujidae listed in North America, and C. clavipes is the sole representative of the genus Cucujus. The adult’s bright red colour, triangular head, and very flattened body amount to an immediately recognizable animal, even if only parts of it are available for ID.
Which leads me to today’s discovery. A small swath of bark peeled from a long-dead tree revealed this:
A Red Flat Bark Beetle partially obscured by consuming fungi, missing its head and parts of legs, yet still unmistakable and resplendent in red. A welcome shot of colour in an otherwise grey day.
Added March 9, 2010:
Now that I know where to look, I’m finding oodles of these larvae:
Their rear-end armaments are really quite spectacular, and they seem to flare them upwards in a threat display when disturbed:
Cucujus clavipes - urogomphi
So much spikiness!!! It’s amazing how much the camera helps with my identifications…it’s difficult to make out these small details in the field with my unaided eye and I’m often (ususally) unsure what kind of critter I’m looking at. But then I get back to my laptop and POW! Spikiness! Triangle head! Short hairs! Cucujus! Compare these images to those of the Pyrochroids I also find, and you’ll see why these finer details are so important…