Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rainy Tuesday Click Beetle

Ampedus apicatus (Say, 1839)
Click beetles (Elateridae) are familiar to many children who delight in turning them on their backs to watch them spring up with a loud click in attempts to right themselves. Since the click beetle family Elateridae contains almost a thousand species in North America, children have a great variety of clickers to choose from. The larvae, called wireworms, of a few of these are pests in vegetable crops, pasture, and grains. In Alberta, only one of the 80 known species is a pest, the Prairie Grain Worm Ctenicera aeripennis (Kirby, 1837) (or perhaps the subspecies aptly named 'destructor').
To click or not to click ...
Ampedus apicatus (Say, 1839) lives in the boreal forest and appears to cause no problems - and hence has no common name. I think of it as the 'Two-spotted click beetle with the black thorax and head', but that is a pretty onerous handle. 'Apicatus' is clearly from the Latin for 'at the tip', but the generic name is a bit of a puzzle - perhaps an amalgam of the Latin 'Am' (loving) and the Greek 'pedo' (earth). Perhaps 'Apically-spotted Earth Lover' would come more trippingly on the tongue. Its wireworms may feed on fungi in rotting logs or perhaps prey on other insects in that habitat, but no one seems to know. Usually, I let them go on their merry way, but sometimes a childish urge to turn them on their backs gets the better of me.

Additional reference:

Webster et al. 2012. New Coleoptera records from New Brunswick, Canada: Elateridae. ZooKeys 179: 93–113, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.179.2603

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