Predaceous Diving Beetle

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Although they are found in my home state of Ohio, I most often see these cool beetles when I retrieve my minnow traps in southern Illinois.

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This is a decent-sized insect with an adult maximum length of about 1-1/2 inches. It’s body is streamlined and oval in shape.

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Predaceous Diving Beetles prefer quiet water at the edges of ponds and streams, where they float gently among weeds. Before diving, they trap air between their wings and body, which prolongs their time spent under water.

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Their hindlegs are fringed with hairs and flattened for swimming; when swimming, they kick both hind legs simultaneously. Not only are they good swimmers, but they are also strong fliers that can fly away to a new waterway if the pond they live in dries up.

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Fierce predators, these beetles do not hesitate to attack prey larger then themselves, including small fish, tadpoles and frogs. Their sharp jaws inject enzymes that digest their prey, so that the juices can be ingested by the beetle.

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Species in this genus of beetle are edible and were enjoyed both in pre-settlement days and on tacos in present-day Mexico. They have been “farmed” for human consumption in various parts of Asia and have been used medicinally in China.

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Spined Oak Borer

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I found this creature in my backyard and was able to scrape it gently into a jar to examine and photograph this newly found “long-horned” beetle.

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This insect is about three-quarters of an inch long. It is brownish-yellow and mottled with dark spots. Like most long-horned beetles it has antenna longer than its body. It also has spiny projections on its antenna and on its femoral leg segments, accounting for its common name.

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Calling this little insect’s antennae “long” is an understatement; each extended, tapering antenna was twice as long as its body. Long-horned, for sure!

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There are more species of beetles than any other insect order – some sources claim a quarter of all named animal species are beetles. In the Long-horn Family there are nearly 300 genera and 1,200 species – and that’s just in North America.

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Spined Oak Borers occur from New York to Michigan and south to Florida. Adult have massive pinching mandibles that apparently are used to chew on dead branches of various hardwood trees, including oaks.

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This species lays its eggs under bark scales on dead tree limbs, after which the larvae spend their first year feeding just under the bark; during the second year, the larva migrate deeper into the dead wood, pupate, and eventually emerge as adults.

This was a super cool find that I didn’t have to go far to encounter.

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Japanese Beetle

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This half-inch insect makes its presence known at this time of the year. It is easy to find in my backyard or while hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

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It has iridescent copper-colored wing covers and metallic green head and body. A row of white hair-like tufts is present just below their wing covers.

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Though not very destructive in Japan, where it is controlled by natural predators, in North America, it is a noted pest which attacks rose bushes and a variety of other plants.

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Japanese Beetles damage plants by skeletonizing their foliage, eating only the leaf material between the veins; they may also feed on fruit on the plants if present.

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Feeding adults release a congregation pheromone with attracts other adults as they emerge later, so that masses of adults gather on unfortunate victim plants.

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Japanese Beetles can apparently live anywhere there is sufficient foliage to feed on. They are not limited to forests or grasslands, but often live on farms, cities and even your garden.

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It is thought that beetle larvae from this insect entered the United States in a shipment of iris bulbs prior to 1912 (the time when inspections of commodities entering the country began).

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California Broad-necked Darkling Beetle

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The term “darkling beetle” refers to several genera within the insect family Tenebrionidae which includes about 20,000 species. These genera are also referred to as “pinacate beetles.”
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These insects are found worldwide, but are most commonly encountered in the deserts of the western United States, with as many as 450 species in California alone.
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Known commonly as “stinkbugs,” some beetles in this genus emit noxious odors in the chemical class quinones from the ends of their abdomens or behind their heads as a defensive mechanism.

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Many types of this beetle do “headstands” to ward off predators – whether they have the ability to produce bad odors or not.

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Typically they can be found under stones, around decaying matter, or walking right out in the open. I mainly find them under plywood boards that I lift while looking for snakes.

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This is one of the largest species of Darkling Beetles I have encountered. At home I keep two other species and raise them for their larval state: the mealworm, which is used to feed pet reptiles, birds and amphibians.

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Fire-colored Beetle

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This was a neat insect find that I saw while visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Adult Fire-colored Beetles tend to be slow-moving, so they are easy to capture and photograph.

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Most have dark wing covers and orange or red on the head, legs and body. They have long, straight antennae; the antennae of males are often distinct and comb-like.

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The larvae for Fire-colored Beetles can sometimes be found by overturning logs. They look completely different than adult beetles and are long and worm-like with distinct, flattened bodies and horn-like projections on their final segment.

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Little is known about Fire-colored Beetle larvae, but they are believed to be predators and likely feed on other wood-dwelling invertebrates like worms, termites, ants and other beetle larvae. Even less is known about the adult beetles, but they have been observed visiting flowers where they probably feed on pollen and nectar.

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Fire-colored Beetles are an example of a creature that is far more common than we think, yet we know almost nothing about them.

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Rough Osmoderma

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While at an outdoor summertime party, the event was “crashed” with the arrival of this distinctive insect. I had never seen one previously and decided to investigate its life cycle and habits.

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These bulky beetles grow to an inch-plus in length. According to a paper published in 1939, the adults “conceal themselves during the day in the crevices and hollows of trees, where they feed upon the sap that flows from the bark.”

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It belongs to the genus Osmoderma (from the Greek osme—smell, and derma—skin). When captured, the beetles emit a very strong, but not unpleasant odor. Some say the scent is beetles smell “peach-like” or “plum-like.”

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The scent is a pheromone that attracts females to the tree hollows where the males hang out and where eggs will be laid. The larvae reside in decaying wood, often in apple or cherry trees. They take three years to reach maturity, and are freeze resistant in the Winter.

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They are one of the scarab beetles, with the typical scarab’s short antennae with a set of finger-like appendages at the end. This beetle was an unexpected guest that certainly added to the festivities.

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Green Ground Beetle

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I don’t come across these colorful creatures all that often, but they are a sight to behold. They are found throughout the United States and adjacent Canada and Mexico.

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These insects are just over half an inch in length. Their entire dorsal surface usually metallic green, though they sometimes appears bronze and also can appear bluish. Their legs and antennae are long and slender.

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Green Ground Beetles inhabit a variety of moist habitats and can be found from Spring through Fall. They usually occur close to the borders of standing or running water. I tend to find them under debris along the Cuyahoga River.

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They are primarily nocturnal and in the daytime hide under rocks, logs and loose bark. This beetle feeds on other insects and probably consumes a far amount of insect carrion, as it doesn’t seem prone to attack smaller invertebrates that are alive.

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This fine creature is known to use the hair on its legs to clean its antennae; the antennae acts as the insects “nose” and is used to sense the smells as well as tastes of the world around it.

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Blue-margined Ground Beetle

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When lifting rocks in southern Illinois in search of small snakes and salamanders, I found this awesome insect.

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The Blue-margined Ground Beetle is large, extra-robust, flightless, and features a huge head and jaws. It typically runs about under or on the leaf litter in forests.

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This insect is about an inch long and gets its common name from the smooth, blue border around its outer edges. Its large mandibles are said to deliver a painful bite and as an added defense measure, it can release a foul-smelling liquid if threatened.

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Both the larva and adult Blue-margined Ground Beetles are active predators, mainly feeding on other insects, particularly caterpillars.

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This is one neat looking insect that I haven’t seen for several years – it was nice to come across one while visiting the Land of Lincoln.

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Emerald Euphoria

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While hiking through the woods while on a visit to Maryland, an insect “crash landed” onto a log that I was approaching.

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This is a type of scarab beetle that as an adult feeds mainly on sap from wounded trees – especially oaks. Most scarab beetles in the eastern United States, such as June Bugs, are nocturnal – but this species in active in the daytime.

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The Emerald Euphoria not only has the ability to fly, but is also has the unusual characteristic of doing so using its more-often-than-not hidden membranous hind wings, while it hard outer wing covers remain closed. They are fast and powerful fliers, though somewhat erratic while airborne.

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This species falls into the category of “Flower Scarabs” and sometimes visits Dogwood, Sumac and Thistle. It’s moderate size and metallic sheen of its green color make this a distinctive and enjoyable insect to encounter on a Summer hike.

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Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

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At this time of the year it’s not unusual for me to encounter this half-inch-long, metallic green insect with conspicuous sickle-shaped jaws and large, bulging eyes on the sides of its head. I usually see them on dirt paths near waterways during warm weather.

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Adult beetles are fast runners and fliers. When they fly, they usually stay within three feet of the ground. They are very active during the day, moving rapidly in short bursts, often landing several feet in front of you only to take off again when you catch up to them.

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They are predators of other insects and can catch prey on the ground and in the air. These shiny beetles are among the fastest runners in the insect world. The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle pounces on its prey, capturing it with its powerful jaws.

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Because tiger beetles have excellent vision, you might have trouble getting close to one. For best results, sneak up on one very slowly to observe magnificent insect close up.

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The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle’s eye-catching brilliance and fascinating predatory behavior have made it a longtime favorite with naturalists.

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