beetling off

This was meant to be a more substantial post, but I have to beetle off in a few minutes. We’ve had a busy weekend, and this morning I’m off to meet up with a Grade 10 science class from one of the schools in the city. A friend, Eric Snyder, and I have been doing an annual field work outing with a class from this school for several years. On past occasions, we’ve spent the day doing stream surveys, but we’re going to try something a little different this year. Somewhat inspired by the Blogger Bioblitz, I suggested that we do an informal blitz at a rustic conservation area just outside the city. Hopefully the day will go well. I’ll take some photos and write a post about it tonight or tomorrow.

In the meantime, you get the above round-necked longhorn beetle. As near as I can tell, it’s a Cyrtophorus verrucosus which, according to Stephen Marshall’s Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity, can be either light or dark in colour. This is the dark form. Apparently, these are marked and shaped so that they resemble ants. Indeed, when I first noticed this beetle crawling over the very odiferous blooms of a bush in one of the fields, I did almost mistake it for an ant due to the shape of the “thick neck” and its antlike movement. I have yet to ID the bush, but it was really quite dreadful smelling – a very cloying scent which might best be described as “rotten” — especially as the flowers became increasingly sticky with nectar over a period of days. However, obviously the odor appealed to many insects as it was just crawling with a number of different species of flies, solitary bees, wasps, and beetles, such as chafer type beetles and the above longhorn beetle. I must try to ID the bush — which is just one of many unknown bushes around the farm (obviously, I need to sharpen my skills at IDing bushes). Btw, on the subject of longhorn beetles [Family Cerambycidae], do drop by and visit Niches to see the beetle that Wayne has photographed and written about this morning.

Well, I must run. I have about 10 kilos of field guides in my knapsack, along with water and some lunch. That is a much heavier load of “stuff” than I would normally ever drag along on a hike. I like to travel very light, so this will take some getting used to!

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5 Responses to “beetling off”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    Two long-horn beetle posts! Yours and Wayne’s. I love such a coincidence. Hope your day with the students turns out to be a very good one. I like the idea of bio-blitzing them.

    I’ve noticed a lot of new beetles this spring, but I’ve had my eyes on the nest boxes and have not turned the camera down to focus on the little creatures. I hope to spend more time looking at this season’s crop of insects and bugs today. Maybe I’ll even see a long-horn.

  2. Wayne Says:

    HA! As Robin says, how delightful to have another longhorned post. We’re a thousand or more miles apart, but it happened at the same time!

    As I look at the plant yours is scouring through I wonder what it is? It looks like it makes umbels, the flat-topped many-flowered inflorescences like queen anne’s lace (or viburnums, in my case).

    I admit to being really intimidated by beetles. It’s all that stuff about JBS Haldane noting that God must have been inordinately fond of beetles.

  3. Vasha Says:

    Those flowers look extremely similar to the ones on the hawthorn tree in my back yard, which also smells really putrid — large as it is, it fills the whole yard with scent. It essentially finished blooming yesterday and is now dropping petals. Does your bush have thorns?

  4. Cathy Says:

    Hope your ‘informal bio-blitz went well. Those lucky young people. Perhaps some polite young’un offered to carry your pack?

    I had to smile about that ‘rotten’ smelling bush. There’s a tree in our neighborhood that smells so incredibly bad. My physician husband calls it the ‘- – – – – -‘ tree. There is absolutely no way I can be compelled to fill in those blanks :0) You’re on your own.

  5. bev Says:

    robin – I’m not surprised you been too busy watching and photographing birds in your gardens as it sounds like there’s plenty to see. I suspect that the insect situation is just beginning to build up out there due to the cool, rainy weather in the PNW this spring. Plenty of time to find some nice longhorn beetles to photograph!

    Wayne – I’m going to have a better look at that bush today to see what it might be. I have some photos of leaves, but they don’t really tell me much. It’s sort of a small, narrow leaf.

    Vasha – No, not hawthorn as the leaves are small and lanceolate. I’ll have to do a bit more ID work on it. It’s probably something fairly common, but the identity seems to escape me at the moment.

    Cathy – The little bio-blitz went quite well. I believe that all (or most) of the students had a good time and probably learned a few things. Fortunately, I anticipated that we might not have much time for IDs, so I left some of my field guides behind in the car. As things turned out, we spent so much time on walking and discussing what we saw along the trail, that we spent no time on IDs, so the books went unusued – which is okay as I think the time was better spent showing the students what to look for.
    Hmm.. let’s see… what fits in those spaces of your… “stinky” tree. That must be it!! (-: