The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

The Northiest Beetle Evar (Atheta sp.: Staphylinidae)

I just finished pointing* all of the beetles my research team collected at Hazen Camp, near Lake Hazen on Ellesmere Island, in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. If you don’t know where that is, you should click on that link.

See? It is very freaking far north.

Sorting through the specimens from this site didn’t take very long.  The vigorous sampling efforts there resulted in a series of 17 individuals of what appears to be the same species of rove beetle (Staphylinidae), from the genus Atheta.

Staphylinidae-Atheta sp.

Atheta sp., a rove beetle (Staphylinidae) from the northernmost Canadian Arctic island.

The entire beetle is approximately 2 mm from head to tail; really, beyond my camera’s photographic capabilities.

Still, although fossilized ground beetles, and even lady beetles, have been discovered on Ellesmere in the past, this critter may be the only extant terrestrial beetle species from this part of the Arctic…which definitely makes it worth taking a photo, even if it’s out of focus.


* “Pointing” refers to gluing insects onto a small triangle/pointy-shaped piece of paper, through which an insect pin is inserted. It’s a handy way to mount insects that are too small or too delicate to pin directly.



Oliver, D.R. (1963). Entomological studies in the Lake Hazen area, Ellesmere Island, including lists of species of Arachnida, Collembola and Insecta. Arctic, 16(3):175-180.

Blake, W. and J.V. Mathews. (1979).  New data on an interglacial peat deposit near Makinson Inlet, Ellesmere Island, District of Franklin.  Geological Survey of Canada, Current Research Pt A, 79-1A, 157-164.

6 responses to “The Northiest Beetle Evar (Atheta sp.: Staphylinidae)

  1. Tim Eisele November 16, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Wow. Are there any significant insects for them to eat up there, other than springtails?

    Now you just need to somehow get a beetle collected from Antarctica, to go with it!

    • TGIQ November 16, 2011 at 2:38 PM

      There are scads of flies and spiders. Parasitic wasps are reasonably common. There are a couple of aphids, too, I think. Other than that?
      ??? <–that is the question. I suspect a heck of a lot of cannibalism is going on in the Arctic.

  2. The Ozarkian November 17, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    I’m quite sure you’ve got one of those expensive little “point punch” gizmos, and don’t have to sit around with a ruler and a pair of scissors, cutting out the $#%@%@ things like I do!! Probably even have a “point punching assistant”, too, don’t you?

    • TGIQ November 17, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      LOL! While I DO have a little point-puncher (yay!) I do NOT have a point-punching assistant (but maybe I could find a willing sucker undergrad looking to do some volunteer work?

  3. Jon Q November 17, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    Neet Beetle!! I need to learn my staffs a bit better, their taxonomy is sorta impossabe (at least to me anyway). -beetlebrained

    • TGIQ November 18, 2011 at 6:29 AM

      I don’t think it’s just you – I’ll have to snoop through some collections, but I don’t think this guy has been id’d past its genus name (at least according to the literature I dug up). Hopefully I’ll be able to spend some time with more knowledgeable folks at the Canadian National Collection and they’ll get me on the right ID path 🙂

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