bitsy beetle bliss: Ripiphorus sp.

Hmmmm.  There’s a severe lack of beetle on this beetle blog, don’t you think?  Let’s remedy this immediately!  Here’s a quite itsy beetle from my recent trip out to Utah.  This little guy is part of the genus Ripiphorus from the beetle family Ripiphoridae.  The Ripiphoridae are really neat because many species are parasitoids of other insects such as bees, wasps, and cockroaches.  It’s fairly rare for a beetle to be a parasitoid – they usually leave that to the teeny hymneopteran wasps.

This is the first ripiphorid beetle that I’ve ever found and if you look at the picture closely, you can see why he stayed still for a picture.  He’s stuck!  The flower head that he landed on was super sticky and his little wings became stuck to the plant.  Lucky for me so that I could get some pictures of this wonderful beetle!  This particular genus contains species that are parasitoids of ground nesting bees.  As a larvae, the beetle locates a host (usually by positioning on a flower that the bee will visit) and hops aboard to be carried back to the nest.  Then it sits and waits…menacingly.  It’s waiting for the bee larvae to hatch in the nest so that it can penetrate into it and live endoparasitically.  It grows…within its poor little bee host.  Then, once the bee gets big enough, the beetle chews its way out from the thorax and consumes the rest of the bee.

Who knew such bitsy beetles could be so delightfully devilish?

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