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Overview

Brief Summary

Scarab beetles are notable herbivores active during the day. The larvae live in the ground and feed upon plant roots. These young insects are known as white grub. The cockchafer (also known as the maybug) is the most common scarab beetle. A few other species are characteristic for the dunes. The garden chafer (Phylloperta horticola) is found often on burnet roses. Sometimes in the month of June, these insects eat all the leaves of the plant. The large pine chafer is a rare species found in the pine woods along the coast.
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Comprehensive Description

Scarabaeidae (Scarab Beetles)
This a large family of beetles, ranging in size from small to very large. They are usually black with a heavy carapace, and powerfully built. Many of these beetles display little interest in flowers, preferring to roam across the ground and hunt for other insect prey. Some of them are attracted to dung, which is shaped into a ball and rolled along the ground. This is deposited in a suitable hole, where the eggs are laid. Only one subfamily will be described, because the Scarab beetles in this group are more likely to visit flowers. Cetonniae (Flower Scarab Beetles): These are medium-sized beetles, somewhat round and flattened in shape. They are variably colored, sometimes iridescent green, black, or with brown and yellow patterns. The antennae are short and stout, like other Scarab beetles. The adults often appear on flowers, feeding on pollen, if not the flowers themselves. The larvae feed on plant roots, rotting wood, and decaying organic material in the ground.

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Ecology

Associations

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
larva of Sarcophaga albiceps endoparasitises Scarabaeidae

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Animal / predator / stocks nest with
Tiphia femorata stocks nest with larva of Scarabaeidae

Animal / predator / stocks nest with
Tiphia minuta stocks nest with larva of Scarabaeidae

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Known predators

Scarabaeidae (scarabs) is prey of:
Solpugidae
Scorpiones
Araneae
Typhlosaurus
Aves

Based on studies in:
Namibia, Namib Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • E. Holm and C. H. Scholtz, Structure and pattern of the Namib Desert dune ecosystem at Gobabeb, Madoqua 12(1):3-39, from p. 21 (1980).
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Known prey organisms

Scarabaeidae (scarabs) preys on:
animal dung
Mammalia

Based on studies in:
Namibia, Namib Desert (Desert or dune)
Costa Rica (Carrion substrate)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • E. Holm and C. H. Scholtz, Structure and pattern of the Namib Desert dune ecosystem at Gobabeb, Madoqua 12(1):3-39, from p. 21 (1980).
  • L. F. Jiron and V. M. Cartin, 1981. Insect succession in the decomposition of a mammal in Costa Rica. J. New York Entomol. Soc. 89:158-165, from p. 163.
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Chitin layers produce gold and silver colors: jewel scarab
 

The forewings of jewel scarabs produce gold and silver by having 70 layers of chitin that become progressively thinner with depth resulting in different refractive indices.

   
  "A team of researchers at the University of Costa Rica has found that the  beetles' metallic appearance is created by the unique structural  arrangements of many dozens of layers of exo-skeletal chitin in the  elytron, a hardened forewing that protects the delicate hindwings that  are folded underneath... In these beetles, the cuticle, which is just 10 millionths of a meter   deep, has some 70 separate layers of chitin—a nitrogen-containing  complex sugar that creates the hard outer skeletons of insects, crabs,  shrimps, and lobsters. The chitin layers become progressively thinner  with depth, forming a so-called 'chirped' structure. 'Because the  layers have different refractive indices,' Vargas says, 'light  propagates through them at different speeds. The light is refracted  through—and reflected by—each interface giving, in particular, phase  differences in the emerging reflected rays. For several wavelengths in  the visible range, there are many reflected rays whose phase  differences allow for constructive interference. This leads to the  metallic appearance of the beetles.' This is similar to the way in which a prism breaks white light into the   colors of the rainbow by refraction, but in the case of these beetles,   different wavelengths, or colors of light are reflected back more  strongly by different layers of chitin. This creates the initial palette  of colors that enable the beetles to produce their distinctive hues." (Stark 2011:1)

  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Stark A. 2011. Beetle bling: Researchers discover optical secrets of 'metallic' beetles. EurekAlert [Internet], Accessed 25-Apr-2011.
  • Campos-Fernández C; Azofeifa DE; Hernández-Jiménez M; Ruiz-Ruiz A; Vargas WE. 2011. Visible light reflection spectra from cuticle layered materials. Optical Material Express. 1(1): 85-100.
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Functional adaptation

Vision enables stealth communication: jewel scarab beetle
 

The vision of jewel scarab beetles allows them to find each other while evading enemies thanks to the detection of circularly polarized light.

       
 

"According to researchers from the University of Texas, the jewel  scarab species Chrysina gloriosa can distinguish between  circularly polarized and unpolarized light. That ability could provide  the beetles with a tremendous advantage, the researchers say, because  most of the light reflected off these beetles' colorful bodies happens  to be circularly polarized.

 "'The trait would allow the beetles to easily see each other while  simultaneously hiding from predators that cannot see circular polarized  light,' said physicist Parrish Brady, who conducted the research with  Molly Cummings

"Because ability to see CP light is very rare in nature, it's not likely  that any of the beetles' predators can see it. So the ability to both  see and reflect CP light probably evolved to allow jewel scarabs to  communicate with each other while staying hidden from predators…" (Science Daily 2010)

  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Brady P; Cummings M. 2010. Differential response to circularly polarized light by the jewel scarab beetle Chrysina gloriosa. The American Naturalist. 175(5): 614–620.
  • 2010. Beetles stand out using 'Avatar' tech. Science Daily [Internet],
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:16075
Specimens with Sequences:9716
Specimens with Barcodes:6744
Species:2350
Species With Barcodes:1931
Public Records:1649
Public Species:551
Public BINs:253
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Barcode data

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Wikipedia

Scarabaeidae

The family Scarabaeidae as currently defined consists of over 30,000 species of beetles worldwide. The species in this large family are often called scarabs or scarab beetles. The classification of this family is fairly unstable, with numerous competing theories, and new proposals appearing quite often. It is probable that many of the subfamilies listed here will not be recognized very much longer, as they will likely be reduced in status below subfamily rank, or elevated to family status (the latter is most likely, e.g., with the family "Melolonthidae" already appearing in some recent classifications). Other families have been removed recently, and are nearly universally accepted (e.g., Pleocomidae, Glaresidae, Glaphyridae, Ochodaeidae, Geotrupidae, and Bolboceratidae).

Scarabs[edit]

Sacred scarab in a cartouche of Thutmosis III from Karnak temple of Amun-Ra, Egypt

Scarabs are stout-bodied beetles, many with bright metallic colours, measuring between 1.5 and 160 mm. They have distinctive, clubbed antennae composed of plates called lamellae that can be compressed into a ball or fanned out like leaves to sense odours. The front legs of many species are broad and adapted for digging.

The C-shaped larvae, called grubs, are pale yellow or white. Most adult beetles are nocturnal, although the flower chafers (Cetoniinae) and many leaf chafers (Rutelinae) are active during the day. The grubs mostly live underground or under debris, so are not exposed to sunlight. Many scarabs are scavengers that recycle dung, carrion, or decaying plant material. Others, such as the Japanese beetle are devastating agricultural pests.

Some of the well-known beetles from the Scarabaeidae are Japanese beetles, dung beetles, June beetles, rose chafers (Australian, European and North American), rhinoceros beetles, Hercules beetles and Goliath beetles.

Several members of this family have structurally coloured shells which act as left-handed circular polarisers; this was the first-discovered example of circular polarization in nature.[1]

Ancient Egypt[edit]

In Ancient Egypt, the dung beetle now known as Scarabaeus sacer (formerly Ateuchus sacer) was revered as sacred.

In his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin described the genus Ateuchus as the "sacred beetle of the Egyptians."[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A. A. Michelson (1911). "On metallic colourings in birds and insects". Philosophical Magazine 21: 554–567. doi:10.1080/14786440408637061. 
  2. ^ Darwin, Charles (1859). On the Origin of Species. John Murray. p. 103. 

Further reading[edit]

  • RU Ehlers. Current and Future Use of Nematodes in Biocontrol: Practice and Commercial Aspects with Regard to Regulatory Policy Issues. Biocontrol Science and Technology Volume 6, Issue 3, 1996.
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Trichiinae

The Trichiinae are a subfamily of the scarab beetle family (Scarabaeidae), but occasionally they are included in the Cetoniidae as tribe Trichiini. The conspicuous bee beetles (Trichius) are probably the best-known genus in Europe.

They vary in size from 6 to 65 mm [1] and can be distinguished from the Cetoniidae by having covered epimeres, and lateral edges of the elytra which are not trimmed.

The adults feed on sugar-rich secretions of stems, leaves, fruits and flowers of different plants. Most larvae develop in rotten wood.

Selected taxa

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