Saturday, 29 October 2011

Beetles on the Move

It's that time of year again. There are many beetles at the lights each night. The Long-horns (family Cerambycidae) are among the most spectacular because many are large and some quite colourful. They range in size from some minute species a half centimetre long to some real giants 70 mm or more in length. The larvae live in and feed on wood, mostly decaying wood. There are some species that do inhabit living trees and shrubs and feed on living tissue. Some Long-horns are pests of the timber industry. The adults of many species are commonly found on flowers where they feed on pollen and the floral parts themselves. They are effective pollinators. For the most part, Long-horned beetles are part of the recycling process-turning dead wood back into soil.

This beetle is Archetypus frenchi (family Cerambycidae; subfamily Prioninae). It measures around 50 mm and is rather formidable.
These jaws are not for predation but for chewing into wood for egg laying and for defense. Such large beetles are a potential food source for many reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals.

This is another prionine cerambycid. It is even larger than Archetypus. Curiously with their great size, appearance and appeal as specimens for a collection, Australian prionines are in need of revisionary studies. About 1200 Australian species have been described but there are many undescribed species waiting in line for taxonomists to name them.
Many cerambycids can deliver a painful bite. They have very good eyesight and use it effectively.

Thanks to Jack Hasenpusch for the identification of Archetypus.


Denis Wilson said...

Welcome back, Dave, and your Beetles.
Nice shots.
My memory of Longicorns is they move fast, so you did well to get those shots.

randomtruth said...

Good stuff. Do your prionids make the screechy noises with their legs like Prionus californicus?

Mr. Smiley said...

Yes, thanks for the welcome Denis. These guys are pretty sedate at the lights. They are tough so don't need to move very fast. The Butcherbirds seem to know how to approach them without getting bitten.

And RT, the prionids do squeak like the Californians do! They are tough cookies and you would not want to get tangled up with those mandibles.

Unknown said...

I found one of the cerambycids. It's very large. I'm in Armidale NSW... I caught it but don't know where to take it, as it's the holiday period and the university won't be operating normally. It's about 6cms long.