Sunday, July 22, 2007

Carpenter beetle II

I seem to be using the word "carpenter" erroneously, given that I can't even find it in Charles Hogue's Latin America Insects and Entomology. Likewise, I haven't found anything to satisfy my curiosity on any of my searches on the web. To be honest about it, I'm not sure how I came by the idea that the severed branches of trees, like the one in the attached image, was the work of a beetle with a saw-like mandible. I had visions of this insect going around and around the branch until eventually cut. Well ... it ain't true! According to Hogue, the culprits responsible for imitating the chainsaw are the long-horned beetles, which get their name from their long antennas, not their cutting instruments. Of the more than 5,000 Neotropical species, only a few are capable of gnawing through a live branch like this one I found day before yesterday. And that's exactly what the female beetle does. She gnaws through the wood. Why? The long microscopic tunnels of the wood provide the perfect environment for development of the her larvae.

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