Beetles (Order Coleoptera)
The Order Coleoptera contains about 40% of all known insect species. Beetles occur in virtually every habitat except the ocean. The wings are the most distinguishing characteristic of Coleoptera. The hard, shell-like front pair, called elytra, are used mainly for protection. The second pair of wings, membranous and longer than the elytra, are used for flying and are folded under the elytra when not in use. Beetles have chewing mouthparts and undergo complete metamorphosis. Overwintering can occur at any stage of development, depending on the species. The larvae vary considerably in form among different families. Beetles and beetle larvae are known to feed on all types of plant and animal materials. Many beetles are considered valuable because they destroy injurious insects or act as scavengers.
Tiger Beetles,Cicindelaspp. (Family Cicindelidae). (Fig. 7.16) Very active, predaceous beetles commonly seen at elevations up to 12,000 ft (3,700 m). They may be metallic green, blue, or plain brown, but their colors are difficult to see because they move so rapidly. Two species, C. plutonica and C. montana, are common at high elevations (11,000–12,000 ft, 3,300–3,700 m).
Ground Beetles,Pterostichusspp. (Family Carabidae). (Fig. 7.17) Occurs near 9,000 ft (2,700 m) in July. Ground Beetles are common insects that forage for prey mainly on the ground. Species are often similar in shape but may differ greatly in size. They are usually black or brown and have fine "lines" on the wing covers parallel to the margins. There are very many species. Another genus that occurs in the White Mountains is Callisthenes, near 10,000 ft (3,100 m) in July and August.
River Beetle,Agabus lutosus(Family Dytiscidae). (Fig. 7.18) A water beetle that commonly occurs in small ponds at elevations up to 12,500 ft (3,800 m). Both the larvae and the adults are predaceous.
Burying Beetle,Nicrophorus hecate (Family Silphidae). (Plate 7.1) Two varieties — one black, the other red and black — are found on carrion from 4,000 to 10,000 ft (1,200 to 3,100 m), from spring to fall. These beetles bury small carrion, remove the hair, and feed and lay eggs in an underground chamber.
Sericaspp. (Family Scarabidae). (Fig. 7.19) Occurs near 8,000 ft (2,400 m) elevation in summer, commonly on trees and shrubs.
Twig Girdler,Agrilus walshinghami (Family Buprestidae). (Fig. 7.20) Occurs from 4,000 to 6,000 ft (1,200–1,800 m) in August and September on flowers of Rabbit Brush Chrysothamnus nauseosus .
Cactus Flower Beetles,Carpophilusspp. (Family Nitulidae). (Fig. 7.21) Occur in cactus flowers at lower elevations (4,000–9,000 ft, 1,200–2,700 m) in spring.
Common Checkered Beetle,Trichodes ornatus(Family Cleridae). (Fig. 7.22) Commonly occurs on flowers, including cactus flowers, and probably occurs up to 10,000 ft (3,100 m).
Blister Beetles (Family Meloidae). A family of beetles common and diverse in the low-elevation areas of the Owens Valley. Many are brightly colored. Eggs are laid on
the ground or on flowers, and the first instar larvae actively seek out host insects such as bees or grasshopper eggs, feeding on the host eggs and larvae.
Meloe spp. May occur up to 12,000 ft (3,700 m). The larvae are parasites of bees.
Epicauta oregona . A small and grey species with black spots that occurs in the Owens Valley. Its larvae probably feed on grasshopper eggs.
Soldier Blister Beetle, Tegrodera latecincta . (Plate 7.1) A large meloid occurring in the Owens Valley and up into the foothills to 4,500 ft (1,400 m). This and the following two species may be seen feeding on flowers in summer.
Pleurospasta mirabilis . (Plate 7.1) Occurs below 5,000 ft (1,500 m) in the Owens Valley.
Phodaga alticeps . (Plate 7.1) Occurs below 5,000 ft (1,500 m) in the Owens Valley.
Armored Stink Beetle,Eleodes armatus (Family Tenebrionidae). (Plate 7.1) A large, black beetle that occurs commonly during all seasons from 4,000 to 7,000 ft (1,200 to 2,100 m), where it is usually found walking on open ground. When disturbed, it raises the tip of its abdomen into the air, sometimes emitting a foul-smelling vapor. These beetles superficially resemble Ground Beetles (Family Carabidae), but their behavior and the lack of prominent jaws are usually sufficient to distinguish the two families. Other common species include Eleodes obscura, which occurs from 5,000 to 8,000 ft (1,500 to 2,400 m), spring to fall; Eleodes pilosa, at 10,000 ft (3,100 m) in July; and Eleodes (Blapylus) species, which occur from 10,000 to 13,000 ft (3,100 to 4,000 m) in summer and fall.
Convergent Ladybird Beetle,Hippodamia convergens(Family Coccinellidae). (Plate 7.1) A familiar beetle occurring at all elevations. Thousands of "ladybugs" may locally occur clustered in watered canyons or on mountain peaks, especially in fall and winter. This and the following species are important predators of other insects, especially homopterans.
Neomysiaspp. (Family Coccinellidae). Occurring from 6,000 to 9,000 ft (1,800 to 2,700 m), pale, faintly striped species montane in distribution and common on Pinyon Pine.
Leaf Beetles,Alticaspp. (Family Chrysomelidae). Small (0.1 in, 3mm) metallic blue or purple beetles common at higher elevations (10,000–12,000 ft, 3,100–3,700 m). Members of this abundant, diverse family are commonly green, blue, or black and resemble the ladybird beetles in shape. They are commonly very small and feed primarily on the leaves of plants. Also common are the Trirhabda species, whose irridescent green larvae feed on sagebrush.
Long-horn Beetles (Family Cerambycidae). Adult beetles of the Family Cerambycidae have thick, long antennae and so are collectively known as "long-horn beetles." Larvae of most species bore into wood.
Banded Alder Borer, Rosalia funebris . (Fig. 7.23) A large, conspicuous beetle that occurs along Owens River, where its larvae bore into alder, willow, and other hardwood trees.
Crossidius hertipes nubilis . (Plate 7.1) Occurs from 7,000 to 8,000 ft (2,100 to 2,400 m), where it is commonly seen feeding on flowers of Rabbit Brush Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus .
Arhopalus asperatus . A large, black cerambycid whose larvae bore into pine and other conifers.
Judolia instabilis . (Plate 7.1) Commonly occur on flowers, especially lupine. Larvae bore into pine species. Adults of this species may be yellow and black, or all black. Occurs from 7,000 to 13,000 ft (2,100 to 4,000 m).