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Checkered Beetle1 locationInsect/Spider
.: SkyIslander16 :.
Mar 31 2011
Cunningham Loop Trail
FamilyCleridae - Checkered Beetles
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Enoclerus sp.

Common Names:Beetle
Habitat: Cleridae can be found in the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and even in Australia. There are approximately 3,500 species in the world and about 500 species in North America. Due to this wide distribution there are many different habitats in which the checkered beetles can be found.

Many of the species are known as "flower visitors", that prey on other flower visiting insects and also feed on pollen. These species are found in moist, sunny environments where flowering plants are found in abundance.

Another habitat commonly inhabited by beetles in the Cleridae family is trees. These "tree living species" are found in forests across the world with various climates and an array of easily preyed upon insects. They seek protection under the bark and hunt for other insects above and below the bark. The primary source of prey for these bark living hunters is bark beetles.

The third type of clerid beetles is the "nest robbing species" which live in shrubbery and in trees. Unlike the tree living species these species do not actually burrow into the bark. Nest robbing species typically hunt termite, bee, and wasp larvae, and one particular species has been noted to prey primarily on grasshopper egg masses. Not all nest robbing species actively hunt live prey, some species for example prefer to feed only on dead honey bee larvae and adults.

Description:Generally, checkered beetles are elongated and oval in shape and range from 3–24 millimeters (.1–1 in). Their entire bodies are covered with bristly hairs, and many display an ornate body color pattern. These often brightly color patterns can be red, yellow, orange, or blue.[2] The antennae are clubbed at the tip for most species, but others can be “clubbed, saw-tooth, or thread-like.” The pronotum region is nearly cylindrical and characteristically narrower than the elytra (special hardened front wings), while the head is as wide or wider than the pronotum. Their elytra have tiny pits or depressions, and never expose more than two tergites (dorsal plates). Clerid beetles fall under the suborder Polyphaga. Key characteristics of Polyphaga are that the hind coxa (base of the leg), do not divide the first and second abdominal/ventral plates which are known as sternites. Also, the notopleural suture (found under the pronotal shield) is not present.[1] To further identify Clerid beetles, a few additional characteristics need to be examined.

5 rear leg tarsomeres of Tillus elongates (Tillinae)Clerid beetles have unique legs that help to distinguish them from other families. Their tarsal formula is 5–5–5, meaning that on each of the front, middle and hind legs there are 5 tarsomeres (individual subsegments of the feet/tarsi). One or more of these subsegments on each leg is typically lobed, and the 4th tarsi is normally difficult to distinguigh. Furthermore, an important feature that eliminates many other families of beetles is that Clerids' front coxae (base of the leg) expose the second segment of the legs known as the trochanter.

The second defining characteristic of the Cleridae family is that Clerids never have eversible vesicles (small usually hidden balloon-like structures thought to be scent glands) on their abdomen and pronotum. This characteristic distinguishes them from a similar family Melyridae which sometimes has these glands. This trait is very important in correctly differentiating checkered beetles from Melyridae.

Comments: The Cleridae family contains many species of predaceous beetles that feed on other beetles and beetle larvae in their natural habitat. The most common prey item for checkered beetles are the bark beetles and wood boring beetles. The beetles use pheromones to help them locate, kill, and consume their prey. Researchers and forestry officials have used bark beetle aggreagation pheromones to attract the checkered beetle to specific trees. This causes the bark beetles to be overwhelmed, extensively preyed upon by the Clerid beetles, and typically eliminated. There is also additional research being done pertaining to the impact of Cleridae beetles on pollination in flowers.

Source: Wikipedia

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