Beetles in our Midst

Top Photo: Passionflower flea beetle.

Beetles are insects. They belong to an order of insects called Coleoptera which, translated from the Greek, means sheath wings. Beetles have two pairs of wings, the front of which are, in most species, hardened and serve to cover the hind wings, the flight wings, when not in use. When on foot, most beetles fold their flight wings and store them under the hardened forewings, the elytra.

Beetles constitute about 40% of all insects on the planet with anywhere from 350,000 to 400,000 species, depending upon which source is referenced. The familiar lady bug, lightning bug, and boll weevil are all beetles. They live under water, on and under the ground, burrow into trees, most species can fly, and some of them harvest and consume dung.

They’re a diverse lot. Here’s a very small sampling of photos of beetles that have been seen here at the Museum. The photos are in no particular order.

Bess Beetle or Horned Passalus (Odontotaenius disjunctus).
Bess Beetle or Horned Passalus (Odontotaenius disjunctus). Find them in or on rotting logs, or walking to and from one rotting log to another in spring or early summer.
Delta Flower Scarab (Trigonopeltastes delta). Note triangular mark (Greek letter "delta"). Look for them on flowers.
Delta Flower Scarab (Trigonopeltastes delta). Note triangular mark (Greek letter “delta”). Look for them on flowers.
Virginia Pine Borer, among many other common names (Chalcophora virginiensis). Look for this metallic wood borer on the ground near pines in spring.
Virginia Pine Borer, among many other common names (Chalcophora virginiensis). Look for this large metallic wood borer on the ground near pines in spring.
Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cincindela sexguttata). Find them in spring on the ground in wooded areas, hiking trails, roads, etc.
Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cincindela sexguttata). Find them in spring on the ground in wooded areas, hiking trails, roads, sidewalks, etc.
Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus). Find them on flowers in late summer to fall.
Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus). Find them on flowers in late summer to fall.
A scarab (Valgus canaliculatus ?). Look for them on spring flowers.
A scarab (Valgus canaliculatus ?). Look for them on spring flowers. Note short elytra.
Rhinoceros Beetle (Xylryctes jamaicensis). Probably best to locate them on ground in areas where lights have been left on all night (like a gas station) in a wooded area.
Rhinoceros Beetle (Xylryctes jamaicensis). Probably best to locate them in the early morning on ground in areas where lights are kept on all night (like a gas station) near a wooded area. Like many insects, they fly to lights.
Pink, or, Twelve-spotted Lady Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata). Search for them in areas where aphids are plenty.
Pink, or Twelve-spotted, Lady Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata). Search for them in areas where aphids are aplenty.
Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis). I find them very common on Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis). Here at the Museum, I find them very common on Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle spreads its wings, or at least one of them. Not unfolded flight wing on right.
Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle spreads its wings, or at least one of them. Note unfolded flight wing on right.
Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle larva.
Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle larva.
Locust Borer (Megacyllene robiniae). Find these yellow and black patterned beetle on goldenrod late in the season. It helps if your near locust trees.
Locust Borer (Megacyllene robiniae). Find these yellow and black patterned beetles on goldenrod late in the season. It helps if you’re near locust trees.
Flower Longhorned beetle (Typocerus sp.) Look for this and several similarly patterned longhorns on flowers.
Flower Longhorned beetle (Typocerus sp.) Look for this and several similarly patterned longhorns on flowers.
Larger Elm Leaf Beetle (Monocesta coryli). You may have guessed that there is another smaller elm leaf beetle. Look for both the Larger (10-16mm) smaller species near elms.
Larger Elm Leaf Beetle (Monocesta coryli). You may have guessed that there is another elm leaf beetle which is smaller than this one. Look for both the Larger (10-16mm) and smaller species near elms.
Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus). Search for these hefty beetles (40 - 60 mm) near deciduous woodlands with rotting logs on forest floor.
Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus). Search for these hefty beetles (40 – 60 mm) near deciduous woodlands with rotting logs on forest floor.
Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata). If you have morning glory nearby you may see one of these small (5-7 mm) beetles on the plant. They can turn from gold-nugget gold to red in color. Note the transparent elytra.
Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata). If you have morning glory nearby you may see one of these small (5-7 mm) beetles on the plant. They can turn from gold-nugget gold to red in color. Note the transparent elytra. 
Passionflower Flea Beetle (Disonycha discoidea). Poke your finger at this beetle and it's likely to spring into the air, like a flea.
Passionflower Flea Beetle (Disonycha discoidea). Poke your finger at this beetle and it’s likely to spring into the air, like a flea.
False Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta). I was fooled into thinking this a Colorado Potato Beetle by the black and tan stripes on the elytra.
False Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta). I was fooled into thinking this a Colorado Potato Beetle by the black and tan stripes on the elytra.
Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus). Don't let the big "eyes" scare you, it's a smokescreen. Pick this large (about 35 or 40 mm) beetle up and it will play dead, then click and pop into the air, it's a click beetle
Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus). Don’t let the big “eyes” scare you, it’s a smokescreen. Pick this large (about 35 or 40 mm) beetle up and it will play dead, then click and pop into the air, it’s a click beetle.
Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus). This small beetle's life revolves around dogbane (Apocynum).
Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus). This small beetle’s life revolves around dogbane (Apocynum).

And there you have it, eighteen species, although two of them are not positively identified. A small sample indeed. There were many other species seen out on our 84 acres that are not shown here. What have you seen?

 

 

2 responses to Beetles in our Midst

  1. Avatar
    jpo says:

    Of all the “bugs” I am most fascinated with beetles. They are so colorful and diverse in appearance. I’ve photographed some of the beetles you have here. I have an image of a different (pigweed, I believe) beetle on passionflower. One of my favorites is the spotted cucumber beetle, it is so photogenic with it’s shinny colors. Love the tiger beetle also!

    • Greg Dodge
      Greg Dodge says:

      Yes, beetles are pretty neat. We used to have two species of tiger beetles that I saw regularly here at the Museum, six-spotted and eastern red-bellied tiger beetles. I see far fewer six-spotted these days and haven’t seen a red-bellied for several years. They are widespread and common but the road that I used to see them on, which was once clay surfaced and perfect habitat for them, has been graded and covered with gravel.
      Thanks,

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