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Sunday WaterHauler - Megetra vittata

Sunday WaterHauler - Megetra vittata
San Juan County, New Mexico, USA
September 16, 2005
Size: (a guess) -- approx 3/4"

Images of this individual: tag all
Sunday WaterHauler - Megetra vittata Sunday WaterHauler - Megetra vittata

Moved from Megetra.

Megetra vittata (LeConte)
John Pinto det.

Just posting this...
so everyone knows I've started a Photo Focus Group on Navajo Bugs. I'd appreciate any information, advice, or images on the subject.

Where does the name "Sunday water hauler" come from?
One of the two Navaho names for this beetle is "water carrier".
Some people around Gallup NM call this beetle a "football player beetle".
Also, I am not seeing a species name. Megatra what?

Hi Robert ... I'm just a laym
Hi Robert ... I'm just a layman that's interested in the world around me, so "sunday water hauler" was my phototitle ... I suppose I took the pictures on a Sunday. When I asked a Navajo friend if she was familiar with this beetle, she said she'd always heard them called "Water Haulers". Anyway, that's how I ID'd the photo when I posted ... it's not a "real" name. Sorry for any confusion!

I like the name "football player beetle" -- that makes perfect sense!

Thanks! It seems there are at least two Navaho names: 'eh-saa'niyehe (container-carrier) and toh-saa'niyehe (water carrier). I am hoping to hear a Navaho legend about Megatra one of these days. And maybe some information about the word "megatra".

It's not Megatra.
If you do a search on the genus name, spell it Megetra.

There are two species of Megetra in our bugguide region according to Nomina Nearctica, M. cancel*latus and M. vit*tatus. (The asterisks are to foil searches on those terms from displaying this image since we don't yet know which one it is.) Either nobody here has tried to determine species or, more likely, the two species are hard to tell apart. Thus its placement at genus level.

These are "oil beetles", wingless members of the family Meloidae which include blister beetles. Judging by the bright "warning" coloration, I do not think it a good idea to pick up these critters. They probably secrete a blistering agent, as do many in the family.

I agree.
I agree, and add that I believe this is a species in the genus Megetra.

rambling info...
Hope no one minds. Armed with a name, I couldn't help but go back in search of these beetles again. I was lucky -- there were still a few out. I was able to see a couple mating. (Apparently the smaller beetles are males, not juveniles!) The females measure ~3cm, the males only 10-15 mm.
It's interesting to watch - the females can really swell that abdomen. The female drags the male around, almost like a cart. At one point, I lifted up a stick they crawled upon. When the female lost her grip, the male clung on dearly, but eventually they both fell from the weight. So much drama! She dropped right on her head, and immediately started dragging him again. Never did they break contact!
A curiosity: the abdomen appears changeable - the red parts are like ... expansion joints? Could I be imagining that? It reminds me of hmmm...a bellows...or dryer venting hose. Hehe. You can see the edges if you look just right. Does that abdomen ever collapse into itself and become covered with the wings? Oh yeah, and it was raining -- you could see the water droplets on the back, spherical, just like water on oil. Cool!

I've noticed that the local variety are un-fased by, and perhaps even encouraged by rain. Of course, it's not like they can fly off someplace to get out of the rain ;-)

As far as the bellows effect is concerned, there are air chambers in the abdomen that serve as lungs, put it is not hollow enough to compress so it's covered by the elytra (wingcovers).

The mating pair in New Hampshire is not actually mating. The male is trying to get the female in the mood, then he scoots back to attempt penetration. See

Great additional info
did you get any pictures?

I did.
But I'm not sure of the etiquette. May I post them here on the ID request page?

you can post them here.

Wow ...
That was super fast! This site is sooo addictive - now, to go read everything I can about oil beetles, blister beetles and family Meloidae. :) Thanks so much!

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