elytra beetle

It’s Day 4 of highlights from our Natural Science collection.  Today we share with you this Harlequin beetle.  Beetles belong to the largest order in the animal kingdom. Beetles range from a mere 1mm to over five inches in length. These insects can be recognized by their armorlike wings, called elytra. Beetles are found almost everywhere and feed on all sorts of plant and animal material. Though some beetles are considered serious pests, others are valuable because they prey upon and help to control harmful insects.


Toad Bugs…

This is a toad bug. Although predators, they don’t eat toads, at least not very often. Perhaps never. They’re actually named for their ‘toadish’ good looks.

Toad bugs belong the the true bug family Gelastocoridae with around 110 species (in three living genera) distributed across the much of the planet; they’re missing from the Palearctic (Europe and northern Asia). Two genera, Gelastocoris and Montandonius, are American, found in riparian habitats from Canada to Argentina, and the third genus, Nerthra, is more widely distributed with species in the Americas, Australia, southern Asia, Madagascar and Africa and a few islands between and about.

Gelastocorids belong to the true bug grouping called the Nepomorpha. The Nepomorpha is an ‘infraorder’, an ugly word, but one meaning a classification level lower than suborder but higher than superfamily; bet you didn’t learn that at school. The Nepomorpha are dominantly aquatic bugs and the Gelastocoridae represent a group that has likely, secondarily, become terrestrial. That is the ancestors were terrestrial, became aquatic, then some lineages returned to land. Weird. Make up your mind toad bugs.

Here in Australia there are about 25 species, all in the genus Nerthra, and found in mesic eastern and southwestern Australia. The images show one species from the Dandenong Ranges National Park, just outside Melbourne. In contrast to Gelastocoris, Australian Nerthra are commonly encountered in leaf litter distant from water bodies. They can be a significant component of forest leaf litter samples where they are dominantly represented by larval forms, rather than adults.

The adult, shown here, can be recognised by the hemelytra (like elytra in beetles) clearly visible in the second image as the leafy ‘wings’ which cover the abdomen. The fore limbs with their distinctive spike-like tibia and tarsus combination are clearly suited to ambush hunting with the prey impaled by their front legs. So I suppose they could eat toads, just little ones…

One of the Many Little Prey-Impaling Things!


Vulture Culture curio box! $20 shipped
US only, sorry.

-mink skull
-raccoon jaw
-coyote vertebrae
-wild rabbit foot
-a piece of selenite
-two elytra beetle wings, drilled for jewelry
-coyote tooth, drilled for jewelry
-deer tooth
-small glass mushroom bead
-three small river fossils

Please message me if you’re interested or if you have any questions! Please don’t try to claim this by commenting on the post.

anonymous asked:

what is the function of the claw thing that earwigs have? i've never seen them use it for anything

They will use it to defend themselves, and it can give a slightly startling pinch even to a human. They will also fight each other for territory.

Most uniquely, though, is that they need it to open up their own wings!

Earwigs have beautiful angel-like wings that fold up at almost hundred points to fit under their very tiny, beetle-like elytra - hardened forewings used to protect the flight-wings.

The blue arrow here is pointing to one of the elytra, so you can see how small the wing has to fold under it, and this action is so difficult that the earwig must use its own forceps to carefully stuff its wings back in place!

Earwigs only use their wings under rare circumstances; many will go their whole lives never flying!

The Ten-lined June Beetle

An informational poster for an illustration I did about the ten-lined june beetle. The beetle and elytra inclusion were done in colored pencil on Dura-lar drafting film and the antenna illustrations are Sakura micron pens on drafting film.

The drafting film has a matte texture on both sides, so colored pencil could be applied to the front and back to enhance and mix colors. The film doesn’t take too many layers of colored pencil and can’t be erased too many times but there are so many different ways to mix the color.

The hardest part was figuring out how to render the yellow and black stripes which are created by drop and needle shaped scales.

I had a pinned sample to work from and I had to get small ruler to use under my scope. I also read up on the bug so that I knew the taxonomic features. I mainly used the Peterson Field Guide to the Beetles which is very handy for quick identification and has good illustrations to compare to and Borrer and DeLong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects which I use at work.