Agelia lordi (Walker)

Aegilia lordi (Walker) | Kenya

This pretty little beetle is Agelia lordi (Walker), a member of the jewel beetle family Buprestidae. I received this meticulously curated specimen – collected in Kenya – in a recent exchange with Stanislav Prepsl (Czech Republic). The species is found in Sub-Saharan east Africa and is the smallest of the nine recognized Agelia species. Two other species occur in eastern and southern Africa, including Agelia petalii (Gory) which I collected in South Africa (see Buppies in the bush(veld)), while the remaining six are found on the Indian subcontinent. The presence of two distinct and geographically isolated population centers, along with some seemingly common differences in the included species, begs the question of whether they may perhaps be subgenerically distinct. Gussmann (2002), however, regarded most of these differences to be simply a matter of degree and insufficient to warrant subgeneric separation.

Males of A. lordi are easily recognized by the orange-brown color of the last 2-3 sterna, in sharp contrast to the mostly strongly metallic integument of the rest of the ventral surface (females and both sexes of all other species have all sterna concolorous). The metallic reflections on the head, pronotal sides, and elytral apices – along with size – further distinguish A. lordi from other African species.

As is typical with so many tropical insects, little is known about the biology and lifestyle of species of Agelia. The bold, contrasting coloration of especially the African species would seem to make them conspicuous to predation, but this seems to be the result of a mimetic association with noxious species of blister beetles (family Meloidae) in the genus Mylabris. I saw one of these (see Mylabris oculatus in South Africa) in association with A. petalii during my 1999 visit to South Africa, and the resemblance was so strong that I had do a double-take every time I saw one to determine whether it was Agelia or Mylabris.


Gussmann, S. M. V. 2002. Revision of the genus Agelia Laporte and Gory (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Annals of the Transvaal Museum 39:23–55.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011