The Bug Geek

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Tag Archives: Tenebrionidae

Photo Friday – uncooperative but adorable Tenebrionid beetle (Neatus tenebrioides)

We heat our house primarily with our wood stove in the winter. Right now we’re in the middle of the difficult transitional period where it’s not cold enough to have a good, ripping fire going 24-7, but too cold to let the fire go out. It’s a delicate balancing act, I tell ya.

Anyways, this all requires some extra chores, namely, the hauling and stacking of logs. Earlier this week I was moving logs from our wood shed into the alcove at the front of our house (it’s much nicer to get wood from the alcove whilst in jammies on a chilly morning), when I found a little fellow who’d been all tucked up in a little nook of bark, ready to wait out the winter.

I was tremendously rude and brought him inside and asked him to pose for a picture or twenty.

He was not very obliging about sitting in my white box, and was quite determined to escape post-haste. This all made for lots of blurry and badly-framed and over/under-exposed photos and an exasperated photographer.

I even tried the TOTALLY CHEATING method of cooling him down with an ice pack…but the moment he warmed up…zoom, off he’d run!

Finally, I decided to try providing him with a more “normal” substrate: some bark and a leaf scavenged from the alcove. On the leaf he went…and you could practically hear the “Aaaaaahhhh, this is more like it!

teneb on leaf small

He settled down almost immediately.

Then, after discovering the wood chip, he became uncooperative again (he wanted only to be UNDER the chip, not on it), but stopped roaming long enough to peek at me for a final (rather adorable) picture:

Tenebrionid (rather adorable)

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(Totally cute darkling beetle: Neatus tenebrioides (Tenebrionidae)

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Winter beetle

I’m sitting in the living room watching the snow swirl and fall. We already have a fairly thick coating of the white stuff; winter arrived with a blustry vengeance this month.

Like many entomologists, I tend to lament this time of year a wee bit. As much as I adore the crisp, stark beauty of the winter months, the season does not exactly create ideal conditions for my primary passion: finding, collecting and photographing six-leggers. Granted, many of my summer/fall finds are waiting for me in the freezer. I have hours and hours of enjoyable pinning, labeling and cataloging to look forward to; however, these thrills just don’t compare with the joys of discovering insects in their natural habitats.

Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when a run-of-the-mill winter chore earlier this week resulted in a lovely beetle find AND a photo op!

This frozen face belongs to Upis ceramboides, the Roughened Darkling Beetle (Tenebrionidae).  I was moving firewood from the shed to our alcove (we heat primarily with wood in the winter), when I saw the small black body of this beetle fall to the earth, where it lay in stark contrast to the snow.   Darkling beetles are varied in their diets and habitats, but many can be found under bark or dead wood.  Overwintering Upis adults have been extracted from decomposing spruce, birch and cottonwood[1]; that I should find one amidst my wood pile is no surprise.   This beetle has a fairly extensive northern range, so is well-adapted for cold weather survival.

I was particularly smitten with the beautiful rugose elytra…the intricate folds and depressions add incredible depth of texture, especially juxtaposed against the perfectly smooth head and thorax.

I hope this is a sign of more goodies to come this winter…

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References:

[1] Kaufmann, T. (1969)  Life history of Upis ceramboides at Fairbanks, Alaska.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 62(4): 922-923.

Stump-dweller

A moss-cloaked stump had been bathed in unseasonably warm morning sunshine.  Having been frozen for months, the wood was now merely cool, and was pleasingly spongy to the touch.  I could easily imagine it being a soft, cozy den for all manner of wood-dwelling critters, as it surely was for this fellow:

It was still groggy with slumber, but raised its head in greeting:

Its impressive mandibles slowly opened and closed…

I believe these to be in the Darkling Beetle family (Tenebrionidae), but will have to do some snooping to confirm this hunch.   BugGuide people are saying it’s most likely an Elaterid, or Click Beetle.  I will keep snooping to confirm.  In the meantime, enjoy the buggy picture goodness.

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