Thursday, February 11, 2010
When Alien meets Alien: De gustibus ...
Beetles in the Bush), are possibly the most colourful and energetic of ground beetles in the broad sense. Many other tribes, however, may show spectacular and brilliant metallic hues (see former Albertan David Maddisson Tree of Life page and the links therein). Your everyday ground beetle, though, is on the dark and dowdy side. About 930 of these mostly not colourful species are known from Canada and too many of these to count are found in Alberta. Alas, again the Home Bug Garden seems to be having trouble conforming – not a single cicindelitine and only four species of rather understated ground beetles have been identified so far – and half of them are aliens.
We know what that can do to ants!Perhaps this explains the title of a paper by Lise Ann Libungan and her colleagues: “The ground beetle Carabus nemoralis - the biggest beetle in Iceland” (2008, Natturufraedingurinn 77: 15-18).
Gardening Zone 3b has recently reviewed the biology and the interesting conundrum about this pollen-feeding beetle: in short, it is endangered in Europe, but thriving in North America. But do we really want even an attractive alien invader here? Especially, since the chapter on this family (Soft-winged Flower Beetles, Melyridae) in Arnett’s book (p. 608) reports: “One species, Malachius aeneus (L.), has been introduced to this country and causes considerable unrecognized damage to developing wheat in the Mid-west.”