Tag Archives: beetle

Fall 2014 Interesting Finds: Beetles (Order: Coleoptera)

Beetles (Order: Coleoptera)

Beetles are the largest group in the animal kingdom. 25% of all known animal species are beetles. 400,000 species have been described so far and many scientists believe that there are as many as 1 million beetle species on Earth. Beetles have inhabited our planet for more than 300 million years which means they were around even before the dinosaurs.

Among the 211 beetle species caught in the Fall 2014 School Malaise Trap Program were quite a few pest beetle species, especially those of the leaf beetle family (Chrysomelidae), such as the strawberry rootworm (Paria fragariae). Beetles from this family are known to feed on particular fruits and vegetables as you can easily tell from their common name.

Warty leaf beetle (Exema canadensis)
Warty leaf beetle (Exema canadensis)

It is not uncommon for larvae in several subfamilies of Chrysomelidae to use their own excrement to form protective shields or coverings, but the warty leaf beetle’s larvae in the subfamily Cryptocephalinae take this habit to the extreme. The warty leaf beetle’s eggs hatch underneath a fecal blanket which their mother has provided for them and then the larvae proceed to use their own waste to further develop a case which they continue to add to as they grow. You may think that this practice is unpleasant; however, this casing serves a very important function. Warty leaf beetles are able to avoid observation and detection from predators due to the fact that their specialized casing resembles caterpillar frass (caterpillar poop).

Warty Leaf Beetle

Warty leaf beetle species are typically very host plant-specific and most species primarily use only a single host plant genus or even a single species to feed and live on. Congratulations to Camp Heidelberg for collecting the only species (Exema canadensis) of warty leaf beetle ever obtained during the School Malaise Trap Program.

Fall 2014 SMTP Interesting Finds: True bugs (Order: Hemiptera)

True bugs (Order: Hemiptera)

True bugs are an insect order scientifically known as Hemiptera with about 80,000 species. You might know representatives such as cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, and, most prominently, stink bugs and bed bugs. In the Fall 2014 School Malaise Trap Program, the leafhoppers (family Cicadellidae) were the most diverse group, with 158 species collected. Aphids (family Aphididae) were in second place with 119 species, which included a number of interesting species.

Ladybug2Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with sucking mouthparts called stylets that allow them to pierce plant tissue and suck out the sap. Depending on the plant species and extent of the attack, aphid feeding can lead to yellowing, curled leaves, stunted growth, and even death. The soybean aphid (Aphis glycines) was one of the most widely collected species of aphid, being found in traps at 21 different schools, primarily in Ontario. The soybean aphid is native to Asia but it has become a serious pest of soybean in North America since 2000. Interestingly, the Halloween lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis), which can help to control the soybean aphid and is also an introduced species, was collected at 18 schools in this Fall program.

With little natural protection from predators, aphids employ various mechanisms to avoid predation. Species collected in the Fall program exhibit a few of these mechanisms, including two Tetraneura species that can cause plants to form galls, abnormal swellings of plant tissue, wherein the aphids can survive. Multiple species of woolly aphid (subfamily Eriosomatinae), which excrete a waxy, woolly-looking covering that provides protection from predators, were also collected.

Norway maple aphid (Periphyllus lyropictus)
Norway maple aphid (Periphyllus lyropictus)

Aphids are not only pests of agricultural crops, they can also damage trees. Collected in the Fall  program, the Poplar leaf aphid (Chaitophorus populicola) feeds on poplars and cottonwood while the Norway maple aphid (Periphyllus lyropictus), as the name suggests, feeds on Norway maples. Another interesting find were three species of giant conifer aphids (Cinara spp.), some of which are known to attack Christmas trees and, because they can survive freezing temperatures, they can remain on the trees on route to consumers, becoming a nuisance during the holidays.

Beginning Week 2: St. Ignatius

Good afternoon,

St. Ignatius of Loyola in Guelph collected 10-15 insects on Monday. Some new additions include: small fruit flies, and a black-and-white beetle. Several black flies were caught again. We are looking forward to see what the week will bring in terms of collection with this damp weather. Take a look inside!