Woodland Ground Beetle: Carabus sylvosus

Carabus Sylvosus a Woodland Ground Beetle looking back at me as I uncovered them while cleaning the yard last week. Given that these beetles are nocturnal foragers I am sure it were not too pleased with my removing their cover from the daylight while cleaning up some yard debris.

Beetles are always fascinating to observe from the purple on their shell, the anatomy of their from limbs and what looks like special antennae in front that act as additional legs in some way.

Ground Beetles comprise a family of beetles with over 40,000 species so next time you are out in the forest turn over a rock or mess about in the leaf litter and chances are you might find one looking back at you.

Pasque morning

This is the time of year for the magnificent Pasqueflowers to bloom and brighten the hillsides, forests and meadows near town.

These flowers are part of the genus Pulsitilla family which contains numerous species spread across the globe and are the state flower of South Dakota. We noticed two distinct species while on a recent walk with both growing along the sunny hillsides and one growing just about everywhere in both sun and shade.

Hope we can get back out before they are done blooming and wishing you all a Pasque morning.

American Black Oil Beetle-Meloe americanus

Last week on our daily walks we noticed several of these black oil beetles along the road side and in the open fields near our home. They are very large and we were not sure what they were. A strange beetle or extremely strange ants?

Upon researching what we found we were amazed to find these are flightless Beetles with a truly fascinating life cycle.

Encyclopedia of life describes the lifecycle as follows:

“Oil beetles have fascinating life-cycles. The larvae are parasites of a number of species of ground-nesting solitary bee. Towards the end of spring, female oil beetles dig burrows in the ground close to colonies of host bees, into which they lay around 1000 eggs. These eggs usually hatch the following year in order to coincide with the emergence of the bees. The oil beetle larvae (known as tringulins) are very active, and climb up onto flowers where they wait for a host bee. They attach themselves to the bee, and if they are lucky and attach to the right type of species they will be flown to the host’s burrow, where the tringulin oil beetle turns into a grub-like larva, and develops, feeding upon the pollen stores and eggs of the host. The larva pupates and the resulting adult beetle spends the winter inside the host’s burrow before emerging the following spring.”

We think this female might have been building a nest to lay her eggs?

Piotr Nasckrecki wrote a wonderful article on them on his blog The Smaller Majority which is altogether fascinating.

While we saw several oil beetles last week we only had the opportunity to photograph one, which like the others, was constantly on the move but moving slow enough for us to photograph.