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Photo#48068
Sotol stalk buprestid - Thrincopyge alacris

Sotol stalk buprestid - Thrincopyge alacris
Organ Mts., Las Cruces, Dona Ana County, New Mexico, USA
April 15, 2006
Size: 18 mm approx.
I had a little photo shoot in the sun today with this buprestid I found as a larva in the large, dried flower stalk of a sotol plant in New Mexico. I put it on a doorside shrub with fragrant flowers, the non-colorful kind. That's where the pollen came from that you see in some of these shots. The light-colored markings have obviously attained a deeper yellow than was the case in the last shoot.

Although this beetle is not very responsive indoors, once out in the sunshine it began behaving like a wild animal. If it saw me move, it would sidle over to the other side of the stem of the shrub. Placed on the brick step, it got nervous, and began walking sideways away from the camera, keeping me well in view.

Not content to wait for this beetle's littermates (which I was cetain had pupated and probably expupated inside the sotol stalk section) to gnaw their own way out of the stalk, I carefully split it open to discover four more buprestids. It was good that I had not held my breath. They were all larvae; none had pupated!

I have two opposing theories as to why the larva removed early-on matured while the others hadn't. Either the diet high in protien and starch that I offered the early-removed grub took months off its normal development, or the lack of sotol stalk for food convinced it that the food had run out and it was time to pupate. I certainly could not verify that it ate what I offered it. The four I removed today have some jibbled-up sotol stalk in addition to rolled oats and puppy chow in their rearing cubicles.

Images of this individual: tag all
Sotol stalk grub - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk grubs - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa a step closer - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa a step closer - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa a step closer - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa -- REALLY dark now - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa -- REALLY dark now - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk pupa --  now metallic - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk imago, very new! - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk imago, very new! - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk imago, very new! - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk buprestid - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk buprestid - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk buprestid - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk buprestid - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk buprestid - Thrincopyge alacris Sotol stalk buprestid - Thrincopyge alacris

Eclosion & other comments
First many congratulations on your very exciting achievement. Well done!
By the way, "expupating", has got a name, eclosion. It is also mentioned in Lecture 19: Population Age Distribution & Age Grading, a very nice series. Apparently there are factors that can affect duration of the larval stage and even the number of instars. Worth investigating further, I think.
So interesting that your beetle's behaviour changed completely in contact with fresh air. Last summer the same happened to me with a male stag beetle Lucanus cervus that so mysteriously turned up in our windowless lavatory. Once outside it got so excited that it pinched my thumb very deeply with one mandible only, the other was on the nail, fortunately. So I had to extract it under the fascinated gaze of a couple of teenage boys...

 
Thank you, Maria.
I still have a pre-internet wonderment at the fact a Portuguese woman in Great Britain can turn me onto an obscure set of entomology lecture notes by a self-described pudgy, anti-social, mentally deteriorating entomology prof at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. (I appreciated his self-effacing humor.)

Happy Easter!

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