Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Not a type of aircraft, although the 'ptera' bit does mean wing (and, for the record, 'coleo' means shield). It was Aristotle who gave this name to THE BEETLE.

....and that is just one of the things I've learnt in the course of a fascinating, irritating, entertaining, frustrating and at times almost nauseating morning spent trying to identify a type of beetle I found on a day out to Aranjuez in June, and which M photographed in the grounds of Charlottenburg Schloss, in Berlin, yesterday morning.

My pic's not very good, though the beastie is intriguing, and I always intended to look it up one day. But M's photos are astonishing (Go on, then, see for yourself!). I had to find out more about this extraordinary creature that is found in two such different climates. (Having said that, that's either a lime or a poplar in M's pic, and you find both in may parts of Spain.)

First off, an image search for 'beetle red' gave me this:

and this Bean Leaf Beetle...

and this stylish American;
and this Red Milkweed Beetle (which gets my ugly bug vote for this blog)
and this Redf Lily Beetle, which is currently considering a role in the next George Lucas movie;

aaaaaannnnnnddddddd......... (I have not made this up) this!

And plenty more, too, but no sign of that distinctive combination of black shawl and dice dots. There's 14 million of the little beggars on one tree in Germany, and there was some serious orgifying going on in that flowerbed in Aranjuez - surely someone else must have seen one or two?

I drew a blank, largely because there is an astonishing number of Coleoptera species (about 35,00 according to good ol' Wikipedia, constituting 40% of insect species, or 25% of all known lifeforms......). There are also a number of thorough enthusiasts' sites, and excellent picture sites, like the German Koleopterologie and David Element's Wildlife Web Pages (Scroll down to the index at the bottom of the Home Page), but I couldn't find a basic guide to main types, and clicking on labels to get an idea of the characteristics of the main groups of featured in Koleopterologie took me to some fabulous iridescent, sculptural forms - but also to a succession of hairy, horny (er... perhaps not quite what I mean.... though now that I think about it......), glistening, bulbous, slimy monsters bristling with claws, snags and pincers. Aaaaaargh! No! Lemme out!

So I quit. Dang!

And after all that, I thought I'd just try one more image search, and lo! By the power of Google and Sod's Law, there was Alison Ashwell's blog, and a pic of a Gendarme bug, Pyrrhocoris apterus. This is the sort of thing that drags me back to Google every time!


nzm said...

Nice bug pics!

If you check back on my post, you'll see that some kind anonymous has identified my bugs as "Gemeine Feuerwanze" or "Firebugs" in Engleesh.

MamaDuck said...

Yes! Pyrrhocoris apterus - the Fire Bug. And the reason why I couldn't locate it on the beetle sites, is because it isn't a beetle. So glad we cleared that up!