beetles

Friday Beetle Blogging: Clown Beetle

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Hololepta Clown Beetle (Histeridae)
Arizona

If Oscars were awarded for Most Aesthetically Pleasing Sculpturing on an Insect, hister beetles would make the short list. Especially Hololepta, which not only shows the trademark histerid shininess but also has a flattened, paper-thin body. Michele Lanan, who collected this beetle for me, noted that it seems designed to inhabit the pages of a book.

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In case it isn’t obvious from those killer mandibles, Hololepta is predatory. This one was found in a rotting cactus in the Arizona desert, where it likely hunted fly larvae.

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photo details: TOP 1- Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/13, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
BOTTOM 2- Canon 100m f2.8 macro lens on a Canon 20D

f/15, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
all photos illuminated by indirect strobe in a white box

Friday Beetle Blogging: Laccophilus pictus

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Laccophilus pictus – Predaceous Diving Beetle
Arizona, USA

Here’s one of my favorite Arizona insects. Laccophilus pictus is a small diving beetle, less than a centimeter long, that is common in small ponds and streams in the mountains south of Tucson. It’s also one of the beetles that we’re using as an exemplar taxon for the Beetle Tree of Life project. Very pretty, no?

photo details. Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/13, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
beetle in small aquarium
illuminated with MT-24-EX twin flash

Friday Beetle Blogging: Scaphinotus Snail-Eating Beetle

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Scaphinotus petersi – Snail-Eating Ground Beetle
Arizona

Ground beetles- the family Carabidae- are a spectacular evolutionary radiation of terrestrial predators. The elegant, flightless beetles of the genus Scaphinotus prefer snails and slugs.

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photo details. TOP PHOTO. Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/18, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
inside a white box studio, illuminated with indirect flash
BOTTOM PHOTO. Canon MPE-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/13, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
Twin Flash diffused through tracing paper.

Friday Beetle Blogging: Lutrochus Travertine Beetle

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Lutrochus arizonicus – Travertine Beetle
Arizona, USA

Here’s an odd sort of beetle of whose existence I was entirely ignorant until a few showed up in our lab. My primary research these days is with the Beetle Tree of Life group, and the travertine beetle is just one of many Coleopteran wonders I’ve been introduced to over the past couple of years.  This one is especially cute.

These little guys are aquatic, clinging to rocks in fast-moving streams. They’re rather picky animals and not just any rocks will do. They need a particular kind of limestone called Travertine.  The long tarsal claws- somewhat visible at left in the photo above- help the beetle maintain a toe hold against the flow, and the fine coating of velvety hairs traps a bubble of air so that the beetle never actually gets wet.

photo details: Canon MPE-E 65mm 1-5x  macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/13, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
Twin Flash diffused through tracing paper.
 Levels adjusted in Photoshop.

Friday Beetle Blogging: Dineutes Whirligig

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Dineutes sublineatus – whirligig beetle
Arizona, USA

Whirligigs are masters of the thin interface between air and water, predating on animals caught in the surface tension.   In the field it can be hard to appreciate the finely sculptured details of their bodies, the erratic movements that give them their name also make them hard to observe and to catch.

photo details: Canon 100mm f2.8  macro lens on a Canon 20D
f/18, 1/250 sec, ISO 100
Beetles in a 5-gallon  aquarium with a colored posterboard for backdrop.
Off-camera flash bounced off white paper.
Levels adjusted in Photoshop.