'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Tumbling Flower Beetles


Today I met my first tumbling flower beetle (Mordellidae family). He was sitting on my bench, hoping I wouldn't see him. What a tiny, odd sort-of creature! I expect the storm tossed him off his usual food, and I think he must have come inside riding on one of my lettuces. The first thing I noticed was the spine, which made me think it might be a female ovipositor, but both sexes have them. This spine, along with their very strong back legs, helps them have a spring-loaded take-off when they are disturbed. They feed on flowers. There are only 6 species (so far identified) in New Zealand, but about 1500 world-wide. Isn't it curious the way he hides his head as if he was shy?




5 comments:

  1. He is a super little beetle. I t does looks as if it's jumping days are over.

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  2. I think he's very sweet - and nicely photographed, too!

    We have similar insects, from the tiny spring-tails to the large click beetles which can right themselves if they get cast upside down by somehow inserting a sticky-out bit of prosternum into a groove in the mesosternum. There's a click, they toss themselves into the air and come down right-side-up. They also use it to escape from predators.

    They're not half as pretty as your tumbler though!

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  3. Adrian - He IS super, isn't he? But not dead, no, not at all. After he had posed for his shots (in one of them he showed how he can play possum) I let him go outside on the mandarin flowers. He shivered a few seconds to warm up and then flew away.

    Jay. Thank you. We have those two invertebrates you mentioned too. The click or jump phenomenon must be useful evolutionarily, as it has developed frequently. Even in Mammals. We used to play with click beetles when we were young. I always felt vaguely guilty when they ran out of 'click'.

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  4. What a splendid fellow(ess). I've not seen one before. Along with the several million other insect types I haven't seen!

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