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Genus Meloe - Oil Beetles

Blue Beetle - Meloe angusticollis - male Meloe in lawn - Meloe impressus - female Oil Beetle - Meloe americanus - female Oil Beetle with Tachinidae egg? - Meloe impressus - female Meloe impressus? - Meloe impressus Black Beetle - Meloe campanicollis Meloe strigulosus - Female - Meloe strigulosus - female Long horned beetle of some kind - Meloe - male
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga (Water, Rove, Scarab, Long-horned, Leaf and Snout Beetles)
Superfamily Tenebrionoidea (Fungus, Bark, Darkling and Blister Beetles)
Family Meloidae (Blister Beetles)
Subfamily Meloinae
Genus Meloe (Oil Beetles)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Nearctic fauna revised in(1)
Explanation of Names
Meloe Linnaeus 1758
Origin obscure, may come from early medical literature (the term melloes appears in the writings of Paracelsus); the common name refers to the habit of exuding yellowish oily liquid from the joints when molested(2)
Numbers
22 spp. in our area(3), >150 total, arranged into 16 subgenera(4)
Size
12-30 mm(2)
Identification
Hind wings absent; elytra reduced and overlap at base.
Males smaller than females, with modified antennae:
Range
Primarily holarctic (mostly Palaearctic), with meager representation in more southern areas; throughout NA (to nw. Colombia; Hispaniola)(3)(4)
Habitat
Ground or low foliage(2)
Food
Larvae feed on eggs and other food in bees' nests(2)
Life Cycle
In some species, triungulins aggregate and use chemical signals to attract male bees to which they attach themselves. This allows transport (and transfer) to a female bee who carries them back to her nest (Saul-Gershenz & Millar 2006).
First-instar larvae climb to the top of a plant as a group, clump together in the shape of a female solitary ground bee, exude a scent imitating the female bee pheromone. When a male bee comes and tries to mate with the clump of larvae, some of these clamp onto his hairs and eventually get to female bees when he mates for real. Impregnated female bees fly off and build nests in burrows; triungulins move to the new nests and feed on honey and pollen stocked by the bee for her own young. --Jim McClarin's comment
Remarks
In males of some species mid-antennal segments are modified, and the c-shaped ‘kinks’ involving antennomeres V–VII are used to grasp female antennae during pre-mating displays (Pinto & Mayor 1986)
Print References
Bland R.G. (1986) Antennal and mouthpart sensilla of the blister beetle, Meloe campanicollis (Coleoptera: Meloidae). Great Lakes Entomologist, 19(4): 209–215.
Pinto J., Mayor A. (1986) Size, mating success and courtship pattern in the Meloidae (Coleoptera). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 79: 597–604.
Saul-Gershenz L.S., Millar J.G. (2006) Phoretic nest parasites use sexual deception to obtain transport to their host's nest. PNAS 103: 14039-14044 (Abstract)
Works Cited
1.The bionomics of blister beetles of the genus Meloe and a classification of the New World species
Pinto J.D., Selander R.B. 1970. Ill. Biol. Monogr. 42:1-222.
2.Peterson Field Guides: Beetles
Richard E. White. 1983. Houghton Mifflin Company.
3.American Beetles, Volume II: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea
Arnett, R.H., Jr., M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley and J. H. Frank. (eds.). 2002. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL.
4.The New World genera of Meloidae (Coleoptera): a key and synopsis
Pinto J.D., Bologna M.A. 1999. J. Nat. Hist. 33: 569-620.