By George Hangay
Winner of the 2010 Whitley Medal
A advisor to the Beetles of Australia is an engaging advent to this large and various workforce of bugs – the Coleoptera. Beetles make up forty% of all bugs. The variety of identified beetle species on the planet – greater than 350,000 – is greater than six occasions the variety of all vertebrate species.
New beetle species are being came upon for all time. Of the 30,000 species that could ensue in Australia, merely 20,000 were scientifically defined. those comprise round 6,000 weevils (Curculionidae), 3,000 scarabs, dung beetles and chafers (Scarabaeidae) and 3,000 leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae).
A consultant to the Beetles of Australia highlights the large variety of this designated insect Order. It emphasizes the environmental position of beetles, their relationships with different vegetation and animals and their significance to humans.
• Treats all major households of Australian beetles
• offers an advent to beetle biology
• Copiously illustrated with top of the range images
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Additional info for A Guide to the Beetles of Australia
Larvae without legs are called apodus; they usually live in rotting wood, in the soil or inside live plants, such as those of many weevils (Curculionoidea). The skin of most beetle larvae is reasonably ﬂexible. When it is stretched to its limit by the growing animal it has to give – the old exoskeleton splits open and the larva leaves through the opening, covered by a new soft, ﬂexible skin, thus allowing its 24 owner to expand as much as necessary. In time, the new skin also hardens a little but, meanwhile, the larva keeps growing until its skin can’t stretch any further.
Blister beetles (Meloidae). The majority of beetles spend most of their lives as larvae. Those that live in quickly changing and deteriorating environments, like in a decaying carcass for instance, have to grow and change into adults quickly, before the cadaver dries up or even disappears, due to the voracious appetites of some competing life forms. The larvae of carrion beetles (Silphidae), therefore, have very short larval periods. Others, like many leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae), don’t have much time to waste either, because their food plants may wilt and wither as their season advances, leaving them without suitable fodder.
Some species – certain dung beetles (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) for instance – lay only a single egg while others may produce thousands at a time. The smallest numbers of eggs are laid by those species that care for their offspring. Although only few beetles care for their eggs once they are laid, many species prepare a suitable place, where they can leave them safely and the emerging larvae can readily find food. In this, beetles show true ingenuity. Some disguise their eggs with a coating of excrement, which may contain a ‘starting culture’ of microscopic symbionts, necessary for newly born larva to process its food.