Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beetle Mania

Lest you think that the remaining Beatles, Ringo and Paul, have let themselves completely go-

please meet Dr. Charlie Staines and John Howard.
Charlie is afiliated with the Smithsonian, specializing Coleoptera, or Beetles. While on a collecting trip in southern Ohio, he generously allowed John Howard and me to tag along and literally beat a few bushes in a quest for Adams County's micro-fauna.
Now before you decide beetles are not your bag, I might remind you that one in every four species on this earth- IS A BEETLE! They comprise a tremendous part of the food chain, and with out them, I suspect life on earth would certainly not exist as we know it.

Consider if you will the Weevil, a smallish beetle making a living among the flower buds. There are many unique habitats, as there are types of beetles. We became adept at turning leaves, scouring open ground, and dipping into streams.

Earnestly in search of Ladybugs, or more properly- Lady Bird Beetles, I searched for their food sources: aphids. We found several species of beetles hiding in the leaf axils, but "Lady Birds" were rarely found.

Once we spotted a Soldier Beetle (AKA: Pennsylvania Leather-wing), but we were second in line...

as it had already been "collected" by a Wheel Bug. These Assassin Bugs can give a nasty bite, so we left him in charge of curating the unfortunate Soldier Beetle on his own. I think Charlie's pinning board may have been a better way to go, than becoming the Assassin bug's slurpee.

Su and Charlie Staines, Entomolgist at Large
Are entomologists all books, nets and collecting vials? Heavens no! Sue and Charlie were great fun in the field, eager to share adventure and knowledge, and their combined knowledge was vast. Lady Birds, Lightening Bugs (actually beetles), Flea Beetles, Tiger Beetles... these names only begin to touch upon the species we witnessed. Stay tuned for more information on those Lady Bird Beetles.
Footnote: The famous scientist J.B.S. Haldane, when ask what he had learned of God through his studies of science, responded, "He must be [sic]... inordinately fond of beetles."

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