Beetles of this family are elongated and usually found on flowers or stems. The adults of some species are nectarivores while some may have short-lived adult lives during which they may not feed at all. The head is triangular and the antennae are long, thick, and serrate. Many of them are brightly colored, usually reddish, as a warning to potential predators of their inherent toxicity. The predaceous larvae grow under bark or in leaf litter.
The tiger beetles are a large group of beetles known for their aggressive predatory habits and running speed. The fastest species of tiger beetle can run at a speed of 9 km/h (5.6 mph), which, relative to its body length, is about 22 times the speed of former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson,the equivalent of a human running at 480 miles per hour (770 km/h).
They live along sea and lake shores, on sand dunes, around lakebeds and on clay banks or woodland paths, being particularly fond of sandy surfaces. Tiger beetles are considered a good indicator species and have been used in ecological studies on biodiversity.
A Stunning Collection of Beetles From Around the World
by Laura Poppick
Udo Schmidt, a retired researcher from Germany’s Federal Center for Meat Research in Bavaria, has been collecting beetles since his late 20s. Now, at 70, his beetle drawers have swelled to 30,000 specimens representing more than 6,000 species.
Schmidt is also a talented photographer, and has digitally archived his stunning collection on his website and Flickr.
“Since more than 350,000 species of beetles have been classified, and I have published photos of just 1,600 of them, there is absolutely no danger that I will run out of work,” Schmidt told Wired…
What do you do when you run across hundreds of nameless species of beetle in the wilderness of New Guinea?
No, the correct answer is not “run away screaming” — at least if you’re a scientist dedicated to discovering the massive diversity of insect life. Instead, researchers from the German Natural History Museum Karlsruhe and the Zoological State Collection in Munich turned to the phone book to label all the new species.
After discovering hundreds of distinct species of weevils (a superfamily of beetles) in the genus Trigonopterus, scientists Alexander Riedel and Michael Balke realized they could spend a lifetime describing and naming them all. So they created a scientific shortcut: sequencing a portion of each weevil’s DNA to sort out the different species and taking photographs for the online database Species ID, a Wikipedia-like website for cataloguing biodiversity…
The life of extremophiles: Surviving in hostile habitats
by Christopher Brooks/BBC Scotland
Beetles with antifreeze blood, ants that sprint on scorching sand and spiders that live high up Mount Everest.
These incredible creatures are the extremophiles: animals that survive some of the most inhospitable conditions on Earth, and sometimes even further.
Scientists are amazed by the survival abilities of this motley crew and are currently researching their peculiar adaptations to find out whether they can be transferred to our own species.
In northern Alaska, the red flat bark beetle (Cucujus clavipes) survives arctic conditions using a cocktail of internal chemicals.
The formation of ice crystals in internal fluids is the biggest threat to its survival, but the beetle produces antifreeze proteins that stop water molecules from grouping together.
They also fortify their blood with high concentrations of glycerol, which means that the water in their bodies will not form the ice crystals that would kill other species, even at much milder temperatures…
Oil beetles have fascinating life-cycles. The larvae are parasites of a number of species of ground-nesting solitary bee. Towards the end of spring, female oil beetles dig burrows in the ground close to colonies of host bees, into which they lay around 1000 eggs. These eggs usually hatch the following year in order to coincide with the emergence of the bees.
The oil beetle larvae (known as tringulins) are very active, and climb up onto flowers where they wait for a host bee. They attach themselves to the bee, and if they are lucky and attach to the right type of species they will be flown to the host’s burrow, where the tringulin oil beetle turns into a grub-like larva, and develops, feeding upon the pollen stores and eggs of the host. The larva pupates and the resulting adult beetle spends the winter inside the host’s burrow before emerging the following spring…
For some plant species, dung beetles are crucial (and sometimes obligate) pollinators; this is the case for some decay-scented flowers belonging to the plant families Lowiaceae and Araceae (Nichols et al. 2008).
One of the first scientific observations of dung beetle dependent pollination of a carrion-scented plant (Typhonium tribolatum, Araceae) by Gleghorn in India was cited in Arrow (1931); the dung beetles involved are Onthophagus tarandus and Caccobius diminituvus. In the Lebanon, it was reported by Gibernau et al. (2004) that the two dung beetles species O. ovatus and O. sellatus pollinate the dung/carrion-scented plant Arum dioscordis (Araceae) and Meeuse and Hatch (1960) observed beetle pollination in the plant genera Dracunculus and Sauromatum (Araceae).
Four different carrion-feeding Onthophagus species (O. waterstradti, O. fujii, O. aurifex, O. vulpes) and two species of Paragymnopleurus (P. pauliani, P. striatus) were also found to be obligate pollinators of Orchidantha inquei, a Bornean carrion-scented member of the highly relictual plant family Lowiaceae (Sakai and Inoue 1999). This flower does not secret any nectar and the visiting beetles do not seem to receive any other reward.
The beetles presumably follow the dung-like odour of the flower and then search the flowers for dung. Since the flower does not provide any reward in form of food or protection to the beetles, this form of pollinator attraction has been called “deceit pollination” (Sakai and Inoue 1999). *
Photo: The Dung Beetle Paragymnopleurus pauliani (Scarabaeidae) Visiting the Zygomorphic Flower of Orchidantha inouei (Lowiaceae) **
* : Scholtz, C. H., Davis, A. L. V. and Kryger, U., 2009, Evolutionary Biology and Conservation of Dung Beetles. Pensoft Publisher.
** : Sakai, S., Inoue, T., 1999. A new pollination system: Dung-beetle pollination discovered in Orchidantha inouei (Lowiaceae, Zingiberales) in Sarawak, Malaysia. American Journal of Botany 86, 56–61.