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Calligrapha verrucosa “Warty Willow Leaf Beetle” Chrysomelidae

Missoula, MT
May 26, 2016
Robert Niese

I couldn’t decide which photo i liked best, so I had to post another portrait shot of this lovely beetle. The genus name “Calligrapha” is a reference to the beautiful calligraphic script on the backs of many species. This species’s coloration is not quite as script-like, but it definitely still appears painted. These beetles are most common in the Northern Rockies of Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, but, according to some older sources, their range is far broader, stretching from Nebraska to California to Alaska. If you have photographs of these beetles please contact me to supplement our scientific understanding of their distribution

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Calligrapha verrucosa “Warty Willow Leaf Beetle” Chrysomelidae

Missoula, MT
May 26, 2016
Robert Niese

The genus name “Calligrapha” is a reference to the beautiful calligraphic script on the backs of many species. This species’s coloration is not quite as script-like, but it definitely still appears painted. These beetles are most common in the Northern Rockies of Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, but, according to some older sources, their range is far broader, stretching from Nebraska to California to Alaska. If you have photographs of these beetles please contact me to supplement our scientific understanding of their distribution!

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Calligrapha verrucosa “Warty Willow Leaf Beetle” Chrysomelidae

Missoula, MT
May 26, 2016
Robert Niese

Caught, in flagrante delicto, mating right on the beach! Egads! These indiscreet little beetles are relatively closely related to those Cottonwood Beetles I posted yesterday. Their genus name “Calligrapha” is a reference to the beautiful calligraphic script on the backs of many species. This species’s coloration is not quite as script-like, but it definitely still appears painted. I’ll post some portraits later! These beetles are most common in the Northern Rockies of Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, but, according to some older sources, their range is far broader, stretching from Nebraska to California to Alaska. If you have photographs of these beetles please contact me to supplement our scientific understanding of their distribution!

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Chrysomela scripta “Cottonwood Leaf Beetle” Chrysomelidae

Missoula, MT
April 22, 2016
Robert Niese

These lovely beetles can spend their entire life cycles living off of a single poplar or cottonwood tree. Females lay their eggs in clusters on the undersides of leaves. Those eggs hatch and the larvae begin feeding on the leaf tissues until nothing but a skeleton of veins remains. Then, they pupate into adults which will continue the process of defoliating the tree by eating the thick veins and midribs left behind by the larvae. Some small saplings can be killed by a particularly hungry population of breeding Cottonwood Leaf Beetles. This species may not be present in the PNW west of the Cascades. If you discover them there, please let me know!

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Thanatophilus lapponicus “Northern Carrion Beetle” Silphidae

April 2, 2016
National Bison Range, MT
Robert Niese

Photographed my first Silphid last week and, I must say, it was a horrendously smelly experience. These carrion beetles appear to prefer long-dead organisms, particularly reptiles and amphibians, and this little guy had apparently been hanging out in an extremely ripe carcass. I had to hold my breath every time I went in for a close-up! These beetles often overwinter in these carcasses, consuming the rotting flesh and maggots living there, until emerging at the first signs of spring. I might venture to guess that this is exactly what this individual did all winter, which might have contributed to its particular odor.

Coccinella septempunctata “Seven-spotted Lady Beetle” Coccinellidae

Drinking Horse Mountain, Bozeman, MT
June 3, 2015
Robert Niese

This species has been repeatedly introduced to the US as a biological control agent to manage aphid outbreaks. It is reportedly out-competing many native species in our area, but still has managed to become the official state insect of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Tennessee. This individual was likely released as part of an ongoing Fish and Wildlife Service biological control project in the Drinking Horse Mountain area which has also involved intense invasive plant control (with goats!) in the past.

Lebia viridis (cyanipennis) “Western Colorful Foliage Beetle” Carabidae

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

This awesome carnivorous beetle joined us at the sheets during our Mothlighting event for National Moth Week with the Missoula Butterfly House. These colorful Carabids didn’t come to the light looking for sex though. They were on the hunt! This guy was speedily chasing after gnats and other small insects that we had attracted to our lights. In my opinion, watching these tiny predators was just as exciting as any lion hunt in Africa!

Cyphocleonus achates “Knapweed Root Weevil” Curculionidae

Missoula, MT
August 13, 2015
Robert Niese

These weevils are native to Europe, but were introduced in the 1980s as a potential biological control agent for various species of knapweed. Various studies have shown that they are actually quite good at reducing the biomass of Spotted Knapweed, and have been successful in various locations in Montana, Minnesota, Oregon, Nevada, British Columbia, and recently, Michigan.

Ceutorhynchus erysimi “Shepherd’s Purse Weevil” Curculionidae

Missoula, MT
June 19, 2015
Robert Niese

These adorable weevils were introduced along with the invasive weed, Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris; Brassicaceae) from Europe. They have iridescent green-blue elytra and rarely reach a size of more than 2mm. They’re my new favorite introduced species.

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.