Saturday, December 16, 2006

Colophon beetle ...

Last evening while walking on the mountain Gigi and I came across what I took to be a Cape Stag Beetle (Colophon sp.)

Well I was wrong! Mike Picker of UCT Zoo department kindly had a look at the pics on this post and commented, "The beetle that you found is a ground beetle (Carabidae) - Pachyodontus languidus. Its very common in the forests on the mountain also living in pine forests. Generally found in pairs inside rotten logs. Males have larger mandibles, as in stag beetles."

Clearly what we came across was different to Colophon westwoodi, the stag beetle endemic to Table Mountain.

A good beetle web site seems to be, "The Beetles of Africa site's - see the Beetle Family Catalog"

On investigation there are some really good links pages to a huge variety of beetle sites.
See also:
The Beetle Ring;
Osipov's Top 100 Insect sites

I've googled
'Pachyodontus languidus' and 'Pachyodontus' and virtually drawn a blank.
There is virtually nothing informative on the web on this species.
There are quite a few sites with info on 'Ground beetle' however.

We photographed the beetle and then moved it carefully off the path - Mainly so that it didn't get trodden on and secondly to hide it from potential collectors - ja well no fine!

Various species of endemic Colophon beetles, which I mistakenly thought this beastie was, occur in isolated populations on many of the peaks of the are apparently highly collectable. Check out this link about the prosecution of German collectors not too long ago.

Many species are named after early members of the Mountain Club of South Africa who were instrumental in discovering them and bringing them to the attention of scientists.

Many years ago I wrote an article in the Montain Club's Newsletter, 'Mountainears' on Colophon beetles, and their association with the early Mountain Club members.

Gigi photographing the ground beetle

Ground beetle
Pachyodontus languidus

Ground beetle
Pachyodontus languidus

Ground beetle
Pachyodontus languidus

I really enjoyed this short exchange of messages I came across on one of the US bug groups:

Ground Beetle mistaken for Cockroach: Successfully Exterminated!!!!!
(09/07/2006) corn beetles
I work for Northern Illinois University Residential Facilities and we have had serveral of students in the Residence Halls complaining of cockroaches. We found the bug which is not a cockroach but a corn beetle, according to our exterminator. What could you tell us about this bug? I know you are a busy bug group, but a quick response would be much appreciated. We are having a panic here, with many residents fearing cockroaches.

Hi Tracey,
Congratulations. You have successfully exterminated a harmless Ground Beetle in the Family Carabidae. These predators hunt many serious pests and reducing their numbers will help the other harmful creatures proliferate. Additionally, your extermination attempts have now exposed the students to some potentially harmful chemicals which will enable them to sign up for cancer and disease studies in the future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, there's still some of these guys around. I live off campus at Northern Illinois University and found one just walking across the carpet. This is the biggest bug I've ever seen, but the cat didn't seem to care. I try not to kill bugs anyway, but this thing is almost too big to step on. So now he's out living in the trees once again.