A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

Meet the Beetles

Beetles are the most numerous named insects on the planet.  There are over 250,000 different species, with many more to be discovered.  They serve an important role within an ecosystem as a decomposer, a food source and as a mechanism of natural selection of a large host of plant species.  They may be creepy crawlies to some but we do, in a small part, owe our existence to these amazing insects.

Minnesota, and much of the upper Midwest of the United States, has been in drought conditions for several years.  This spring was the first signs that the drought may be lifting.  It was a very wet spring with average to below average temperatures.  This made it a difficult spring for humans with flooded fields and rained out baseball games it was the spring many beetles have been waiting for.  Moist soil makes it easier for emerging adult beetles to dig their way to freedom and enter a world lush with greenery for the taking.   This post showcases some of the beetles I have found so far.

Borer Beetle:  Eagle Mountain, Minnesota, May 2011

Borer Beetles do exactly as their name suggests the bore!  I may bore some of you with all this information but these beetles bore in the other meaning of the word, they drill, or more accurately chew, their way through wood.  If you have ever seen those swirling patterns on a dead tree, usually under the bark, then you have seen the work of a borer beetle larva.  The adults do not feed within a tree but the larva and pupa call a tree home.  The larva feed on the tree all summer until pupating in the fall.  They spend all winter locked tight within the tree safe from most predators except  a motivated woodpecker.  Come spring they adult emerges from the pupa and bores its way out of the tree.

Talk about some camouflage!!   I found this beetle on the summit of Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota at 2301 feet above sea level.  The summit was fancy plaque in the middle of a stand of trees…

Stag Beetle

Stage Beetles are among the larges beetles found in Minnesota.  They are ground dwelling beetles often associated with rotten oak tress.  Stag beetles get their name from the antler like mandibles found on the males.  Like antlers the males use these mandibles to fight for breeding rights with females.  The stage beetle I found is a female and does not have the impressive mandibles of the male counterpart.

I found this Stag Beetle in the computer lab of my school.  How it got there I have no idea, but I rescued it and released it after its photo shoot.

This is the beetle’s defensive posture.  It rears its head up and displays it mandibles as if asking “You want some of this?”.

Up Next:  “Gold Bug”

In the Hole:  King Polyphemus

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