These gorgeous ironclad beetles from the genus Zopherus are found in the southwestern U.S. south to Venezuela. They are characterized by their wonderful black and white disruptive coloration that is thought to help obscure their outlines against tree bark and fungus and thus render them less visible to predators.
All ironclad beetles (as their name suggests) boast remarkably tough exoskeletons, but this species, Zopherus nodulosus, has one of the hardest exoskeletons of all arthropods. It is so hard, in fact, that collectors must drill a hole through the fused elytra before they are able to stick a pin through.
They are also very good at playing dead (a defensive behavior known as thanatosis). It took 45 minutes of waiting for the beetle on the bottom to finally “awaken” and stretch is legs. The top beetle did not follow suit until 25 more minutes had passed, by which time my knees and back were barking. Both beetles were taken back to the habitat from which they were collected after this photo shoot.
Goldbug (Charidotella sexpunctata)
Amazingly, this brilliant metallic beetle in the tortoise beetle tribe (Cassidini) of leaf beetles is one of the most common leaf beetles around! Both adult and larval Golden tortoise beetles (Charidotella sexpunctata) feed only on the foliage of plants in the Convolvulacea family, which includes things like morning glory and bindweed. I
The adults achieve their molten, metallic glory by filling cuticular chambers with fluid, a process that only works when the adult are living. Consquently, it is almost impossible to preserve these beetles’ colors after they die.
This particular specimen was interesting to me in that it had far more pink along its margins than other C. sexpunctata specimens that I’ve come across.