02 December 2005

The next big thing

Good optics and great field guides helped make birding a hugely successful hobby (serious birders would find another word, I'm sure). Close-focus optics and field guides more suitable to identifying free-flying butterflies, rather than pinned specimens, boosted the popularity of seeking out these insects. The lastest beneficiaries of these tools has been dragonflies, which might be why you're here. The next bug folks might be looking for, photographing, listing, and posting about might be beetles. As one of the most abundant taxa on earth, we might be counting these things for a long time.

We found this Harlequin Flower Beetle (Gymnetis caseyi) in Texas slurping up some fermented slop that had been slapped out to attract sap-seeking butterflies. Those fine lines on the wing covers (elytra) are scratches, like gouges in the paint job of a Volkswagen.

One guy who is already thinking "beetle" is Mike Quinn of Texas Parks & Wildlife, who set up the Texas Beetle Information page, where you can see much nicer photos of the Harlequin Flower Beetle with references and other info.


Anonymous said...

The superabundance of beetle species was what led J.B.S. Haldane, when asked what he knew about God, to utter his famous reply that God had "...an inordinate fondness for beetles".

JAC said...

When we launched Circus of the Spineless, we almost called it "An Inordinate Fondness." Sort of a porno ring to it, no?