All bugs are insects but not all insects are bugs. A “Goldbug” is actually not a bug but a beetle. Edgar Allan Poe wrote a story about this unique beetle, and it was featured in one of my favorite childhood books, but I had never actually seen one or knew it was an actual insect. The correct name for the “Goldbug” is the Goldsmith Beetle (Cotalpa lanigera).
The school I teach at sits near an undeveloped lake and a forested area, what that means for a biology nerd like myself is a higher concentration of all things wild. The exterior light shine all night long and attract a diverse number and variety of different insects. Every morning I come in just after sunrise and see what the lights dragged in. I have found moths, midges, beetles and flies. I found this Goldsmith Beetle right in front of my school door.
These beetles are about the size of a “June Bug” (also a beetle, not a bug). These beetles eat leaves of cottonwoods and aspen. I have lived in Minnesota my entire life and have never seen one, so it was quite a treat to see one up close. The name given to these beetles does them justice, and I did my best to have my photographs to give their natural beauty justice. The carapace of the beetle, the shell on the top, is a brilliant golden yellow. The thorax, just above the head, is covered in an iridescent glow that can only be appreciated in person (I tried to capture it with my photos…I tried!).
The legs and underside of the beetle glow an iridescent green which I have not seen in any beetle let alone one from so close to my house!!
After I initially found this Goldsmith Beetle I decided I was going to keep it for my insect collection, but after taking the last pictures in the blog the beetle literally flew the coup and escaped to freedom, but not before giving me some really cool shots of it’s takeoff!
Underneath the shell of the carapace all beetles have wings. These wings are folded into a specific shape to fit under the carapace. Like fighter jets on an aircraft carrier they must unfold their wings before flight is achieved. This unfolding process happens in a fraction of a second before the beetle is airborne!
Up Next: King Polyphemus