Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Beetles

Have you ever noticed a big, shiny black beetle wandering about in your garden, and been surprised that Seattle was home to such a large, handsome insect? If you visit the southwest, you might see one three times its size, walking down the sidewalk like it owned the place and you were just a guest. Or one that looked just like ours, only sort of like its shell had been installed inside out. Meet Eloedes , better known as the Clown Beetle or a Stink Beetle, and it’s relative, Embaphion muricatum, the Dish-backed Beetle, both relatives of our native darkling beetles, and new residents in the Insect Village.

The Dish-backed Beetle is one of those insects that are so different as adults and larvae that they have two different names. Many people don’t realize that they are the same insect. Adults are about an inch long. Notice how their wing covers (elytra and pronotum) are upturned, giving these insects’ abdomens a dish-like, concave appearance.

In their larval stage, these beetles are called False Wireworms and are a grain crop pest. In the wild, they also eat the seeds and plants of wild grasses but we’ll most likely feed the adults rat chow.

The other new beetles are from genus Eloedes, large black beetles from the desert. Also known as Stink Beetles or Clown Beetles, these showy beetles eat grains and plant material and are gentle and easygoing. They don’t need to move fast. When threatened, they lower their front end and elevate their rear, thus, the “Clown Beetle” moniker. However, this should be seen as a signal to stay back or prepare to be sprayed! Stink Beetles can emit a smelly chemical that repels potential predators. Animal Caretakers however, are careful around them.

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