Anatis rathvoni “Rathvon’s Giant Lady Beetle” Coccinellidae

Great Burn, Lolo National Forest, MT
July 10, 2015
Robert Niese

These massive (10mm) ladybugs are endemic to the PNW and are normally found in pines and other conifers where they voraciously consume aphids, caterpillars, and other small, fleshy-bodied herbivores. Their elytra vary in color from yellow, pale brown, to brown-red, darkening with age. Rathvon’s Giant Ladybird Beetles are named for a relatively obscure 19th century entomologist, S. S. Rathvon from Pennsylvania, who was one of North America’s first entomologists dedicated to educating the public about their local beneficial and pest-insects. Learn more about his life here.

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Eleodes “Desert Stink Beetle” Tenebrionidae

Palouse Falls State Park, WA
June 8, 2015
Robert Niese

Stink beetles are very common throughout the sagebrush deserts of eastern Washington. The Tenebrionid family’s taxonomy is extremely complex and often requires an examination of female genitalia to identify an organism with any further specificity, but most of the large black species fall into this supergenus. This beetle is posed and ready to release nasty-smelling chemicals in response to my terrifying camera lens. 

Dichelonyx valida “May Beetle” Scarabaeidae

Lolo National Forest, Bitterroot Mountains, MT
April 19, 2015
Robert Niese

These charismatic, iridescent Scarab beetles are relatively common throughout the Pacific Northwest in the spring. The adults forage on the leaves of many species of conifers and deciduous trees. While the taxonomy for these species is still quite a mess, our region has two distinct species groups. Members of the D. valida group have a large ridge down the center of their pronotum while members of the D. backi group lack a ridge.

Cicindela oregona “Western Tiger Beetle” Carabidae

Olympic National Park, WA
June 6, 2013
Robert Niese

Look for these awesome predators on sandy river banks west of the Cascades. They are lightning fast and voracious hunters, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of their iridescent exoskeleton!

Osmoderma subplanata “Leather Beetle” Scarabaeidae

Missoula, MT
July 30, 2014
Robert Niese

These large (3 cm), circumboreal beetles get their name from the leathery odors they emit from their exoskeleton (Osmo- means smelly, -derma means skin). Adults spend most of their lives feeding on the decaying centers of fallen logs.

Anthaxia (Melanthaxia) Buprestidae

Glacier National Park, MT
June 23, 2014
Robert Niese

These tiny wood borers (9mm long) are found abundantly in flower heads throughout the summer here in Montana.

Cicindela oregona "Western Tiger Beetle" Carabidae

Olympic National Park, WA
June 6, 2013
Robert Niese

Look for these awesome predators on sandy river banks west of the Cascades. They are lightning fast and voracious hunters, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of their iridescent exoskeleton!

Chrysolina hyperici “St. Johnswort Beetle” Chrysomelidae

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
May 2013
Robert Niese

In the late 1940s these beetles were introduced to California to control the spread of the weed St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum). The introduction of the beetles was so successful that the state erected a monument commemorating their success in Eureka, CA.

Enoclerus sphegeus “Red-bellied Clerid” Cleridae

Olympic National Park, Washington
June 2, 2013
Robert Niese

These little beetles have the unique habit of leaping off their trees and showing their bright red abdomens when threatened by predators (or my camera lens).

Phyllophaga sp. “May Beetle” Scarabaeidae

Missoula, MT
May 18, 2014
Robert Niese

There are more than 400 species of Phyllophaga in the United States and Canada. Their identification requires an intimate investigation of… ahem… reproductive morphology, which is not something I’m dying to do today.