Jun 26, 2008

Beware the Paussinae Beetle

There's a cautionary tale to be found in the ecology of the Paussinae beetle, one that I plan on teaching my children.

The Paussinae beetle, also known as the ants' guest beetle or ants' nest beetle, come in a variety of subspecies, but all of them live myrmecophilously (living symbiotically with ants--new word for ya). These beetles are equipped with large antennae which the ants use as handles to move them around. And why are the ants moving them around? Let's get back to that myrmecophilous word.

The beetle secretes a highly volatile substance that the ants can't resist; they gobble and lick it up. This substance appeases the ants and even suppresses the ants' usual aggression towards intruders to the point where the ants drag the beetles into their nests for future dining. The beetles and their larvae feed off food provided by the ants, or on the ant's very own larvae. Some species of Paussinae beetle leave the nest only to breed during ant swarming season.

So, back to my cautionary tale. Beware becoming enamored with or addicted to a thing and inviting it into your home so that it might eat your larvae. Well, you get the point.

Thanks, Ida.

Photo source: Biodiversity Explorer


Anonymous said...

The variety of bizzare antennal forms in paussine beetles is impressive - I was lucky enough to encounter several species once on a trip to South Africa.

Nice photos - thanks for posting.

Regards -- Ted

Raging Wombat said...

Thank you, Ted.