White beetles reflecting light, new study


This video is called Super White Beetle Holds Secret To Whiter Paper And Computer Screens?

From New Scientist:

Beetles so bright, you gotta wear shades

16:33 15 August 2014 by Philippa Skett

What is whiter than white? These beetles, apparently – because their scales make them whiter than paper. No human technology can match their brilliance using such thin material.

The scales of the Cyphochilus and Lepidiota stigma beetles, which are native to South-East Asia, contain tight, complex networks of chitin filaments. Chitin is a substance with a similar molecular structure to cellulose, and it builds the cell walls of fungi and the shells of crustaceans as well as insect exoskeletons.

On their own, the chitin filaments reflect light poorly. But researchers at the University of Cambridge and the European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy in Florence, Italy, have found that the geometry of a filament network makes the whole thing reflect light extremely efficiently. It reflects light of all colours anisotropically, meaning that it bounces the light in one direction only. That makes the beetles’ scales appear bright white.

“These scales have a structure that is truly complex, since it gives rise to something that is more than the sum of its parts,” said team member Matteo Burresi of the Italian National Institute of Optics in Florence. “A randomly packed collection of its constituent elements by itself is not sufficient to achieve the degree of brightness that we observe.”

What sets the brilliant beetles apart from artificial reflectors, though, is that the scales are ultra-thin. Their individual chitin filaments are just a few thousandths of a millimetre thick, minimising weight and so reducing the energy the beetles need to fly. It may not be too long before these beetles are inspiring a host of new materials that will be whiter than white too.

Journal reference: Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/srep06075.

Colourful Dutch beetles, new book


This video from North Dakota in the USA is called Thistle Tortoise Beetle (Chrysomelidae: Cassida rubiginosa) on leaf.

Dutch entomologist Jaap Winkelman has published a new book. It is available here.

The name of the book is De Nederlandse Goudhaantjes. The word goudhaantje in the title stands for two small bird species living in the Netherlands, goldcrest and firecrest (‘vuurgoudhaantje’).

However, Winkelman’s book is not about birds. As goudhaantje is also the name of a family of mainly colourful beetles, Chrysomelidae or leaf beetles. There are over 35,000 leaf beetle species, according to Wikipedia. About 38,000, according to Winkelman’s book. Of these, 59 species live, or have lived in earlier times, in the Netherlands.

With Winkelman’s book, people will be able to discover all Chrysomelidae of Belgium and the Netherlands.

This video is called Scarlet lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii); a leaf beetle species living in the Netherlands.

New Dutch beetle species discovery


This video from the USA is called A Red Palm Weevil in Virginia Beach.

On 28 July 2014, Dries Mulder found a beetle in Haaften in the Netherlands.

It turned out to be a red palm weevil. That species had never been seen in the Netherlands before.

George Harrison Beatle tree killed by beetles


This video from the USA says about itself:

L.A. Gently Weeps As George Harrison Tree Is Felled By Beetles

22 July 2014

A local official said on Tuesday that a tree planted in memorial to late Beatles guitarist George Harrison following his death in Los Angeles in 2001 has been killed by bark beetles amid California’s epic drought. The pine tree, which was dedicated with a plaque to Harrison at the head of a hiking trail in the city’s Griffith Park, was among a number of trees that have succumbed to the beetles this year. City Councilman, Tom LaBonge said he expects to see a new tree planted in remembrance of Harrison in the fall.

From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:

George Harrison Memorial Tree killed … by beetles; replanting due

By Randy Lewis

July 21, 2014

In the truth is stranger than fiction department, Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Griffith Park, told Pop & Hiss over the weekend that the pine tree planted in 2004 near Griffith Observatory in memory of George Harrison will be replanted shortly because the original tree died as the result of an insect infestation.

Yes, the George Harrison Tree was killed by beetles.

Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony. He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out.

The sapling went in, unobtrusively, near the observatory with a small plaque at the base to commemorate the former Beatle, who died in 2001, because he spent his final days in Los Angeles and because he was an avid gardener for much of his adult life.

Beetle and fly quarrel on flower, video


This is a video about a spotted longhorn beetle and a common flesh fly quarreling on a goldenrod flower.

Henk Lammers in Hupsel village in the Netherlands made the video.

New beetle species discovery in Russian cave


A drawing of the freshly discovered Duvalius abyssimus speciesSinc - José Antonio Peñas

From Science, Space & Robots:

New Beetle Species Discovered in World’s Deepest Cave

A new species of beetle has been discovered in the Krubera cave in Russia’s Western Caucasus. The Krubera cave is the world’s deepest cave at 2,140 meters deep. It is the only cave in the world known to have a depth of over 2,000 meters. The beetle was discovered by researchers from two Spanish universities.

The hypogean ground beetle has been given the name Duvalius abyssimus. The beetles do have eyes unlike many insects specialized for cave-only life. Both a male and a female specimen were collected.

Vicente M. Ortuno, from the University of Alcala, says in the announcement, “The new species of cave beetle is called Duvalius abyssimus. We only have two specimens, a male and a female. Although they were captured in the world’s deepest cave, they were not found at the deepest point.”

A research paper on the cave beetle was published here in Zootaxa.

July 2, 2014

See also here.

Fireflies in the USA


This video from the USa is called Fireflies in Pennsylvania.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Why Do Fireflies Flash Their Lights At Us?

Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2014 by eNature

I was kayaking on the Potomac River yesterday evening and saw my first fireflies of the season in the foliage along the river bank.

It had been a great paddle with lots of osprey fishing, barn swallows enjoying insects overhead, leaping bass making huge splashes, and even an encounter with a slightly confused beaver.

But the fireflies were the most unexpected sighting.

There were only a few, but they’re a sure sign that spring is moving on into summer..

And now that summer is here (at least unoffically) many of us will be encountering fireflies in our yards and gardens.

Despite their small size and preference for dark places, fireflies deservedly receive a lot of attention when summer arrives. And there’s a lot more going on than many of us realize…

A Tale of Lust And Death

Their remarkable green and yellow flashing lights have a hypnotic effect on people. Children in particular are drawn to fireflies. But the same throbbing glow that attracts youngsters often leads male fireflies to their deaths.

In warm-weather months, especially where open meadows and forests coexist, the adult male fireflies of most species set out on mating flights in the evening hours. The females, meanwhile, await their mates in the foliage, blinking seductively. The task for each male is to find an unmated female of its own species.

It’s critical that the female be unmated because in many firefly species the females change through internal chemistry into man-eaters once they successfully mate. Thereafter they use their blinks to attract meals. Some females even imitate the idiosyncratic blinking patterns of other species in an effort to attract as many unsuspecting males as possible.

It’s a fly-eat-fly world out there!

Have you seen any fireflies yet? Or any other summer creatures?

We always enjoy hearing your stories.

Click here to read more about one of our most common species of firefly.