Myrmecos

Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

What was the strange insect that seemed a mutant cross between a bee and a beetle?

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Rhipiphorus wedge-shaped beetle, ovipositing into an aster
Shawnee National Forest, Illinois

Kudos and all 10 points go to coleopterist extraordinaire Ted MacRae of Beetles in the Bush, who provided the correct answer Coleoptera: Rhipiphoridae: Rhipiphorus .

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Rhipiphorus is unusual for a beetle. Coleoptera counts few parasites among its hundreds of thousands of described species. But the wedge-shaped beetles are ectoparasites of bees. Adults can be found on flowers, laying eggs that hatch into little bee-grabbing grubs for transportation back to the unwitting bee’s nest.

Comments

  1. #1 Ted C. MacRae
    June 8, 2010

    Yay, I win the universe!

    Fabulous shots – I’ve been hoping to see one of these guys since I got my camera. Macrosaigon spp. are more common here in Missouri.

  2. #2 Tim Eisele
    June 9, 2010

    I think it’s interesting that there are a number of bee parasites (like the Bombyliidae) that also are bee mimics, and visit flowers like bees. It’s almost like a “body snatchers” movie, where the aliens consume their victim and then take its place . . .

  3. #3 Dark Herring
    June 10, 2010

    “It’s almost like a “body snatchers” movie, where the aliens consume their victim and then take its place . . .”

    I remember reading that one of the producers / writers of Alien had a nightmare about insect parasitoids and this gave him a idea about the movie…

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