Over the weekend during my trip to Brazil last month, I took a walk in the municipal park near my colleague’s home in Barão Geraldo. There was a rather large lake with a walking trail going around it, and although much of the vegetation was planted, there were some less kempt and more native-looking sections along the trail where I hoped to find some insects to photograph. As it turned out, there weren’t a whole lot of interesting insects, but I did see a capybara (“capivara” in Portuguese) – the largest rodent species in the world (picture a guinea pig the size of a small real pig) – for a brief moment before it splashed in alarm into the lake and swam away. One of the few interesting insects I did see was this little fungus weevil (family Anthribidae) on the bark of a large, recently felled tree. At only ~3-4mm in length, it was a rather tiny species as anthribids go – especially in the tropics – and lacked the comically elongated face that some species possess. Still, there is something humorous in its portrait.
Fungus weevils differ from true weevils (family Curculionidae) by having the antennae unelbowed. I have no clue about the identity of this individual below family level, and there don’t seem to be a whole lot of entomologists that study this group of weevils (should anybody have a clue, please do leave a comment). I simply must post these photos, however, because I think it is the first time I actually nailed the focus right on the eye with a closeup of this magnitude (~3X). I actually took some closer shots also (in the 4X range), but I really didn’t care for the composition with the lens zoomed in to that degree.
Update 02/17/11, 9:53 a.m.: I just received an email from Jose Ricardo M. Mermudes (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro), who informs me that the species is Phaenithon semigriseus (Germar, 1824). It would seem that this photo at Coleoptera Neotropical has, until now, been the only image of this species on the web.
My thanks to Dr. Mermudes!
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011