ID Challenge #8

It has been almost two months since the last ID Challenge and more than a month since the last challenge of any kind, thus it’s high time we kick off BitB Challenge Session #3.  This is a straight up identification challenge: 2 pts each for order (a gimme!), family, genus, and species.  Bonus points will be awarded for additional relevant information, but I’m going to be somewhat more selective about what I award such points for rather than just anything that happens not to be incorrect—my discretion.

Standard challenge rules apply, including moderated comments to give everyone a chance to participate.  However, starting this session there’s a twist—if multiple people answer correctly, those who submit their answers earlier get bonus points over those they beat to the punch.  The actual number of points will depend on how many correct answers there are, but I’m hoping it adds a bit of competitive urgency to the game.  We’ll see if it works.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

15 thoughts on “ID Challenge #8

  1. Coleoptera: Melyridae: Astylus atromaculatus.

    I admit, the only reason I know these is that I spent a couple hours puzzling over my own Argentinian photos before I got a lead, of all places, from Mike Picker’s Insects of South Africa guide.

    Embarrassingly, it turns out that I’d previously sequenced 5 genes from this species, but like many gel jockeys I didn’t have the faintest idea what the organism actually looked like.

    • Not Cleridae, although a closely related family.

      Too bad you didn’t say ‘Coleoptera’ to get those 2 gimme pts, but nobody walks away from here empty handed – 1 pt as consolation. 🙂

  2. Well, I’ll take the gimme and says they beetles (Coleoptera). Then I’ll embarrass myself by trying to go further…

    The on beetle families I could think of for these were the soldier beetles (Cantharidae) and the blister beetles (Meloidae). I’m going to go for Meloidae because of the thread-like antennae and the colours – which could conceivably be a warning since blister beetles produce a toxin.

    The family is probably wrong, and I certainly have no clue for anything lower!

    • No need to feel embarrassed by your guesses – the apparently aposematic coloration makes both Meloidae and Cantharidae reasonable guesses.

      2 pts for the gimme Coleoptera and a bonus point for the reasoning along the aposematic lines – 3 pts.

  3. Coleoptera; Melyridae: (now guessing as I didn’t know it was in the US) Astylus atromaculatus (spotted maize beetle)

    • Hi Max – right on all counts for a total of 8 pts. Alex got in ahead, so he gets a bonus point and the win, but you’re now in a strong position for the rest of the current BitB Challenge session.

  4. Order: Coleoptera (obviously), but that doesn’t narrow it down very much, does it?

    I can tell you what they *aren’t* – they are not spotted cucumber beetles (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) – they look superficially similar, but there are not enough spots and they are the wrong shape (too slender). Incidentally, I’ve noticed that if I tell BugGuide to search on “beetle” with more than one modifier, like say “yellow” and “black spots”, it crashes on me. Anybody else have that problem?

    Actually, I’m inclined to think that they are something related to blister beetles, family Meloidae, based on the beaded antennae, the back-facing double-hook on the feet, and the kind of ant-like head. Which may not be the actual distinguishing characters I should be looking for, but oh well.

    Aaaaannnnd, I’ll go for genus Pyrota, based on a general similarity to the Charlie Brown Blister Beetle, Pyrota palpalis (although the pronotum is the wrong color). I rather expect that this is another South American species (and therefore not in BugGuide), although given that it is now spring, when a young beetle’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, they could just as easily be something in your yard.

    And while it is probably too painfully obvious to be worth any points, the one on top is certainly male.

    • Hi Tim – 2 pts for the order, and I’m gonna give you a bonus point for your suspicions that this is something South American. 3 pts.

      Sorry, I don’t think I can give any sex points (I hope this comment doesn’t cause havoc in Google searches).


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