Sunday, September 24, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - Rainbow Scarab Beetle

"An inordinate fondness for beetles." - J.B.S. Haldane

Since I've encountered it this has always been one of my favorite quotes. It was reportedly said in response to the question of what can science tell us about the creator. It seems that there are more beetles than any other type of insect and more insects than any other type of animal.

Which makes it rather difficult to identify those I find in the yard.

But not this time.

This is a Rainbow Scarab Beetle.

It is a female, males have a large horn (see below).

One of the benefits of working from home is that I not only see these things from my home office, I can also grab the camera and take some shots.

Assuming I'm not in a meeting that is.

I wasn't in a meeting.

I spotted her on the deck and rushed out to take some pix. She was not a willing model, scuttling about while I tried to focus.

She would eventually wander off. But I managed a few images. And while sooting I noticed the mites.

There are one and perhaps two different types of mites on this beetle. Apparently not parasites. Just hitchhikers. The predatory mite, Macrocheles amygdaligera, is known to hitch a ride on Rainbow Scarabs. So maybe that's what they are.

These Beetles are a type of dung beetles. And their second favorite flavor of dung is that from opossums, and regular readers of this blog know we've got them around (their favorite is pig dung, we don't have any pigs, but give Patty some time ...).

Other insects also use dung, notably flies, and the mites predate on the the fly larvae. And since the beetle is heading toward the nearest dung pile why not hitch a ride?


Now, about that easy identification. After I downloaded the images to my computer I pulled Arthur Evans' Beetles of Eastern North America from our bookshelf (note the horn, that was the only tricky bit).

Nope, it doesn't get any easier than that.


You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

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