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small coleo - Stethorus

small coleo - Stethorus
Salt Lake City (N40°46.727'W111°52.629'ele4609'), Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
July 20, 2008
Size: 1.5mm
Any suggestions?

not sure about Stethorus...
The only Stethorus species in Utah is S. caseyi, which should have long, erect, reddish setae; this beetle has short, semi-erect to decumbent, pale setae. Without a ventral image to see if the prosternum partially conceals the mouthparts, I don't think the genus can be confirmed.

Moved from Ladybird Beetles.

Possibly Stethorus.

seems reasonable, I'll put it in Coccinellidae until more information surfaces.
Thanks to all that helped with this one, need to find another one and set up the camera for a smaller subject.

How do you distinguish them? I got that way wrong, they're not even in the same superfamily

...have nothing to do with the way living things look. You recognize them the way you recognize human faces, i think. It's hard to explain how one tells aunt Sally from aunt Peggy... To me this one is a Stethorus or a closest ladybug kin, and no anobiid looks like that. But on a blurred pic i could possibly mistake it for, say, a Limnichus, and it would take a really bad photo to confuse it for a corylophid

Take advantage of any collections you have access to. Look at all the identified beetles that you have access to as often as you can. Run identified specimens thru keys. After a while you will become familiar with the characters necessary to distinguish these groups.

It is like facial recognition. You just have to build a really broad base.

interesting how a barely suitable image can generate such a discussion. I've heard "Gestalt" used to describe the impression of the organism that recognizes that special something that is greater than the sum of it's parts. Next to immpossible to explain how you can tell the difference between a Peregrine vs. a Prairie Falcon in the distance or when a Red-tail Hawk is after a Cottontail vs. a Jackrabbit. Guess that gets stored in memory and can be recalled when needed. Need to get more entomolgy stored that way. ;)>

Yours is a good summary of the process
After thousands of hours with binoculars & keys things start to pick up... slowly; tens of thousands of hours and specimens after, here you are. It's a matter of painstaking practice. And, by the way, i'm not that good with human faces at all... :-]

is definitely a virtue, and a necessity.

As far as human faces are concerned, do not call me as a witness. My brain cannot seem to train itself to remember plants or birds either. Don't know what it is about insects.

Birds I get!
Birds are the one thing I can definitely do, the offer still stands for me to ID any feathered friends people have questions about.

You'd think
You'd think that after working with the PPDC collection in Sacramento all summer would have rubbed off more. I guess I just didn't pay enough attention to the tiny stuff. I don't usually collect thinks that are really small because I can't point them for various reasons, so I never paid much attention to how to distinguish them. Obviously my loss, I'll try to rectify that this year with the KU collection.

Also, is there a set of image angles that would allow for a species or genus ID on Histerids?

I would do dorsal and ventral. If someone needs a different perspective, they will ask.

a good deal of histerids...
...can be species-IDed based on good-quality dorsal shots capturing pronotal/elytral striae & sculptural patterns, but, paradoxically, many genera within Saprininae and Histerini look +- the same from above and often require looking at prosternal &c ventral arrangements. So, in a way, you often have a good chance to tell spp apart based on decent dorsal images, but no way to tell which genus this or that guy may be assigned to --unless you closely follow the vogue, which is a futile pursuit: species outlast higher taxa, so to know plants and animals you should focus on how individual species look and not to care much about their incessant reshuffling and regrouping. Leave it to Mergers & Acquisitions people... you can always trace these moves.

Yes, I think it's very important for all biologists to realize that any rank above genus/species is entirely artificial and contains no info other than to say "this is a monophyletic group" any actual name applied is subjective and can be endlessly changed. I actually have the equipment to provide images of these shots. Not as good as Jeff's mind you, but they should still be adequate for the purposes needed here. . I am hoping to specialize in Buprestids, and I can recognize quite a few genera at this point. I haven't chosen a group in which to specialize to begin learning species level ID. Until I can confidently say I know the group I've become rather hesitant about placing a species ID on anythings, and as of yet I'm not a specialist in any group!

Just an opinion,
even binomials could be considered an artificial human attribution. Birds don't take ornithology classes to be able to fly. Linnaeus did construct a darn good system, even if it can get confusing. The advances in DNA and RNA sequencing are helping to resolve some of the questions of higher taxonomic classification. I've noticed that more molecular biologists are taking on some of the possibilities in systematics and (finally) appreciating the work of taxonomists.

It's certainly artificial, in
It's certainly artificial, in that regard any name applied to any organism or even rocks and such is artificial. When I said artificial, I suppose I wasn't being clear. I meant that at a level above genus species, ie anything that refers to something higher than the level of genus can have any TYPE of name (family, tribe, order, subtribe, subfamily etc.) as long as it represents a monophyletic group (An ancestral species and all its descendents). For example:

In Buprestids there is ongoing discussion whether or not the subfamily Julodinae should be a new family if it's ancestral to the rest of the group. If it is, calling it a new family or a subfamily coveys the same systematics information irrespective of the name applied. If it's basal, it an be called a new family simply by moving the designation of "family" up a branch to include all of the Buprestids except the Julidinae, if it stays at the subfamily level, it is simply that the "family" designation was retained at its basal location. However, a genus/species binomial always conveys the exact same information: A species represents it's placement in a single monophyletic group, while a monophyletic could be made that includes multiple genera or higher taxonomic hierarchy, it can't be made to include anything less than a genus and group of species...

You may already know this but I'm writing it for others benefit if they want it. If this is unintelligible I appologize, but it's kind of hard to explain clearly (for me at least) without using a graphical representation.... so take it for what it's worth, and we can debate species concepts some other time ;-)

Just a short comment
Had to go back and re-read some of Paul R. Ehrlich's thoughts on the species concept. Thanks for the prodding.

Generally, I go with the idea that a species is a reproductively isolated group that produces reproductively viable offspring, outcrossing to an other "species" will produce nothing or an infertile hybrid. I view the "species" as the point that higher and or lower classifications could be constructed and revised ad infinitum. That is the simplistic view.

The other possibilities that respond to evolutionary pressures would take a month long symposia to explore.

I just want to label an image to find it later with a search, ;)>

What about asexually reproducing organisms like protists or things that reproduce via parthenogenesis like walking sticks?

asexually reproductives are much to simple/complex to consider (needs different math to work through), parthenogens still produce reproductive offspring, even when a breeding overture has been provided by another species (Cnemidophorus velox, for example). Then there are some insects that larva are morphologicaly distinct and adults are the same and sometimes the other way around. And then there are the plants with their two separate gamete transfer methods. How about the occasional hybrids that produce a viable species. Many exceptions exist for any theory on biological processes.

Still, explaining it to the average person trying to understand systematics (and it does make sense, well almost, most of the time) I'll use the isolation explaination. One could delve into epi-genomes and sequence methylation and really get the cloud of confusion expanded. Not required just to gets a bugs name to call it something.

So there, Bwha-ha-ha (more forceful than hahaha). ;)>

I accept defeat, you win this round :-)

Pure suggestion
Try Anobiidae

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