Friday Beetle Blogging: the Fiery Searcher

Calosoma scrutator, the fiery searcher
Savoy, Illinois

It’s a good thing Myrmecos isn’t a scratch-and-sniff blog. This beetle is a real stinker.

Calosoma scrutator, the fiery searcher, measures about 3cm long and is among our largest native ground beetles. The spectacular metallic coloration serves to warn predators- and, apparently, photographers- of the noxious chemicals it can release when threatened. I had to wash my hands after handling this insect.


photo details: Canon EOS 7D camera
Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens
(top)ISO 200, f/11, 1/125 sec
(bottom) ISO100, f/13, 1/160 sec
indirect strobe in white box

22 thoughts on “Friday Beetle Blogging: the Fiery Searcher”

  1. That is one fine “bug”.

    A number of years ago, a researcher around here set up acorn traps in a forest to study mast production cycles, and got hundreds of these in her traps every season. I can only imagine how pleasant (NOT) it was to empty those out.

  2. Hmmm. I’ve never seen/sniffed one of these before. What’s the smell like? Should I be excited to sniff one? I’m a bit naive; I haven’t whiffed insects much worse than a stinkbug.

      1. Stink bugs are pleasant, then? Well, now I’ll make sure I have a gas mask with me next time I dig through the leaf litter.

  3. Pingback: Wildlife Photography | Gift Books | Bird Art | Bee Art | Insect Art | Wild Light Nature Photography » Blog Archive » Myrmecos does natural light

  4. Crystal Ernst

    Beautiful. Stunning, actually. I had no idea this species uses chemical defenses. I’m also curious what it smells like…akin to stink bugs or very different? Is it an irritant as well?

  5. dragonflywoman

    But they’re SO gorgeous I think it’s wholly worth putting up with the smell. They really are awful though.

  6. Does the smell go away after death? I’ve been meaning to try to find some of these for my collection … but I’m not sure that I really want it smelling of acid-rotting flesh…

    1. yes, i captured two of them in a cup today and they only stunk for about an hour then stoped smelling altogether.

  7. Great images! I came across your blog and had to keep reading your witty-ologist posts!

    I found a fiery searcher in our garden awhile back. I put it in a jar (I’m a wimp) to take pictures of it. It must have not been too threatened (maybe it smelled my wimp-scent) since it didn’t produce the lovely smell you described. I couldn’t capture all of the magnificent colors, but I definitely tried. Glad to see you did!

  8. Gorgeous pics, Alex! Love the front shot showing those big caterpillar chomping mandibles.

    I caught a Fiery Searcher a couple summers ago. Beautiful! I loved how the iridescent color would change in the light. But, yes, I also agree with you. I am very glad it is not a scratch and sniff blog.

  9. I just have two life ones sitting in a terrarium on my desk, ready for Wendy Moore’s Beetle Mania at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum in about a week – they are pretty, but I’ll be glad to move them on…I ran out of suitable caterpillars (it’s a desert here) so last night they feasted on steak…now they are really smelly – ammonia being a strong component

    1. they love grapes apparently! we’re talking ate them for hours and hours! strang seeing as i thought they only ate moth larva

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