Suit of Armor

Ironclad beetle - Zopheridae

Ironclad beetle Phellopsis porcata

Yesterday’s “Word of the Day” on my new Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/buggingyoufromSJI was “ Thanatosis.”  Thanatosis is a behavior otherwise known as “playing dead!” Here’s an insect I found on the roadside the other evening, doing exactly that. Only about 15mm long, it was amazing to even recognize it as something other than a piece of bark.

What is it? This beetle is in the family of Ironclad beetles known as the Zopheridae. It is a species called Phellopsis porcata, one of only two North American species in the genus Phellopsis. Little is known about this cryptic beetle, a bumpy, and bark-like “armored soldier.” It is camouflaged from view in what remains of our old-growth forests. This beetle does not fly, so as habitat disappears, so will the beetle. We may never know the entire scope of its role in our forest ecosystems unless these areas are protected.

What do we know about P. porcata? Researchers have documented the behavior of thanatois or playing dead to escape predation, and in the Pacific Northwest, this species feeds on fungi and is associated with western hemlock trees (Tsuga heterophylla).

 

Ironclad beetle - Zopheridae

Here’s a great online diagnostic tool that can help with identifying Ironclad beetles. This links to the page I used to help with the genus Phellopsis: http://coleopterasystematics.com/ironcladid/IroncladID-Phellopsis.html .   Look for these cool beetles when you take your next walk in the forest!

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European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) What do you “bee-lieve?”

I found this bee yesterday at the San Juan Island Community Gardens (https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Juan-Island-Community-Gardens/161100800613137?fref=ts). A friend helped me get it into a container so I could photograph and hopefully identify it. Took me awhile, but I believe it is a Wool Carder Bee (Antidium manicatum). I read a neat blog about how they are associated with the plant called Lamb’s Ear. Females scrape the “wool” off the leaves to line their nest and both sexes sip nectar from the plant’s flowers. Read more about them here… http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/?blogtag=Anthidium+manicatum&blogasset=45538

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool Carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool Carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9605-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9604-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9603-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9602-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

 

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