Overview

Brief Summary

Taxonomy

Within Cheirotonus parryi’s range there are two other species of Cheirotonus which look very similar and can often be difficult to identify:At first glance, all three species look identical apart from the marbling on the elytra being slightly different. But on closer inspection, the forelegs of the males are all very different:C gestroi and C. macleayi do not occur together at all.The females can be identified by looking at the pygidium - the tip of the abdomen - as the hair structures differ:
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Introduction

With the elongated forelegs of the males, Cheirotonus parryi is one of the most charismatic of all beetle species. John Edward Gray first described Cheirotonus parryi in the Transactions of the Entomological Society of London in 1848.Today marks the 200th birthday of an important English entomologist, Major Frederick John Sidney Parry (28th October 1810 – 1st February 1885), after whom the beetle is named.Parry joined the 17th Lancers in 1831 and went on to become a major in the British Army. He became a Fellow of both the Entomological Society of London in 1840 and the Linnean Society in 1842. He published on all families of Coleoptera but it is his work on the Lucanidae or stag beetles that he will be remembered for, with a large part of his extensive collection residing here at the Natural History Museum.Parry has many other species of beetle named in his honour by revered contemporaries including Wallace, Bates and Hope.
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Adult Cheirotonus parryi, like all other species in the genus, have a green pronotum and dark, orange-spotted elytra.The adult male reaches a body length of 6.5cm (the female, 6cm). The outstretched forelegs of the male can be an additional 8cm.The male and females look alike except for the very long legs which are only found in the males. The different appearance of the male and female, known as sexual dimorphism, is common in many other scarab beetle species.It is unclear why these beetles have developed such incredibly long legs, though it is thought they are used to hold the female during mating.The female lays eggs in decomposing wood and the larvae develop by feeding on this substrate. The larvae play an important ecological role in recycling nutrients and dead matter.The life cycle is thought to take 3--4 years in the wild though this is shorter in captivity.
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Distribution

Distribution habitat

Cheirotonus parryi is distributed from the Himalayan foothills of India in the east through to Burma, Laos and Thailand.The type specimen was collected by Major Parry in Sylhet - modern day Bangladesh. This specimen is in the Natural History Museum collections.Its habitat is the verdant forests of the highland regions, where at least 1,000mm of rain falls a year.The larvae of the beetle develop in rotting wood of large trees and are often found in standing dead trees. The survival of the species is therefore restricted to large stands of primary forest which have not been deforested.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

Alfred Russell Wallace, in his book The Malay Archipelago, described the movement of these beetles as sluggish (he referred to Euchirus longimanus from Ceram, another long-legged species in the Euchirinae subfamily) and stated that they “drag themselves lazily along by means of their immense forelegs”.The adult Cheirotonus parryi fly well and are often attracted to bright lights at night. This is often the best place to observe these otherwise secretive beetles. The adults feed on tree sap and fermenting fruit and are known to gather on sapping trees together with other insects.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Conservation

Cheirotonus parryi is quite common in suitable habitats throughout its range, but is a protected species in Thailand.The species faces increasing pressure from habitat destruction, and there is concern over the shrinking areas of suitable forest - modern machinery has facilitated the deforestation of mountain slopes even in areas which were once thought of as inaccessible.This species together with other large scarab beetles have become very popular with beetle enthusiasts and breeders across the world. These activities are not detrimental to the long term survival of this beetle when compared with habitat destruction.
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