The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Nice Butt

I think we need a hint of yellow and SHINY after all that god-awful grey and snow yesterday:

There, isn’t that much better? 

I have to admit, this little guy had me stumped for a bit.  It’s a Very Small Beetle (that’s a dandelion it’s feasting on).  Looking at the image above, I briefly entertained notions of ant-like flower beetles and soft-winged flower beetles, but the body shape was all wrong.  I started to scan through the folder containing other pics of the critter, looking for a better angle of the lower half of its body, and found this:

A. (Melanthaxia) inornata

Well, I’ll be dipped: it’s a Buppie butt!  It hadn’t occured to me to think of the Jewel Beetles (Buprestidae) for some reason.   I think I tend to dreamily imagine them all as Big Obvious Bearers of Tremendous SHINY, not as small, inconspicuous and easily overlooked black specks on dandelions.   This is clearly a flight of fancy on my part; a great many Buprestids are actually Very Small Beetles.

Ted will probably (hopefully) correct me on this, but I think it’s a member of the Anthaxia genus (which seems to have two sub-genera and is generally confusing, although Coleopterists would NEVER be confusing, right?).

15 responses to “Nice Butt

  1. Steve Willson April 28, 2010 at 6:30 AM

    Glad you had a shot that showed you what you needed to see to make a positive ID. It seems that I can take shots from every conceivable angle, but when I start working through the keys, I find I’ve missed the one distinguishing feature necessary for identification.

    Hope your snow’s melting. We’ve got a heavy frost this morning, but we’re headed into a warming trend.

    • TGIQ April 28, 2010 at 7:07 AM

      I hear you. The problem with small insects, though, is often the characteristic you really need would require a critter-in-hand and a microscope to do the job properly. The bug I posted about yesterday, for example? It’s got a shallow groove running down the tibia of the hind leg…no way I can see that from my photographs. It’s one of the perils of hands-off ID.

      The snow…not so much melted, yet. We got close to 6 inches in total yesterday, a good deal of which has melted…but there’s still a heavy and very damp blanket on the lawn. It’s supposed to rain and get a bit warmer today, though, so we should see the end of it by late afternoon.

  2. Joy K. April 28, 2010 at 6:58 AM

    Ahhhhh, the V.S.B. Must be the beetle version of birdwatchers’ L.B.J.

  3. Ted C. MacRae April 28, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    Yes, genus Anthaxia – very good. There are actually three subgenera in North America (although one is represented by a single species – and exotic at that) – this beetle belongs to the enormously complex subgenus A. (Melanthaxia). Fortunately, the confusion is limited to the western part of the continent, so yours belongs to the single eastern species, A. (Melanthaxia) inornata.

    p.s. broken link alert.

    • TGIQ April 28, 2010 at 10:43 AM

      Yay! I’m pleased to have correctly figured that one out. Jeeeeze, that’s a lot of confusion going on there, though. That said, I’m glad my critter has a not-so-confusing identity. The name is unfortunate, though, isn’t it? Inornata? Ok, so the elytra aren’t gaudily-coloured or adorned with fancy striae or punctures…but it’s still pretty. 😛

    • TGIQ April 28, 2010 at 10:43 AM

      Oh, and link fixed, thanks!

  4. jason April 28, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    Good on catching the shot you needed for the ID, and major kudos for nailing it! Given the size of a dandelion, I can see this little chap will never be called a behemoth. And fantastic detail in the images. Especially considering the size.

    And Ted: Your explanation shows an overly complex taxonomy for beetles. There aren’t that many, right? Maybe you can work your mojo on them like you did on ants.

  5. peteryeeles April 28, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    Great photos again, Geek. You need to get yourself an SLR! If you manage results like these with a point and shoot, I’d love to see your results with a genuine macro set-up.

    • TGIQ April 29, 2010 at 6:21 AM

      I dunno, Peter, a SLR wielded in these hands…could be dangerous. I might never come out of the woods again. I DO have a PhD to work on, ya know.

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