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A horned Scarab beetle.  Phanaeus? - Phanaeus triangularis - male

A horned Scarab beetle. Phanaeus? - Phanaeus triangularis - Male
Upshur County, West Virginia, USA
September 14, 1988
The flanged pronotum, with a dimple, looks like Phanaeus vindex, as does the horn. What's lacking, of course, is the beautiful coloration of P. vindex. Also, if my foggy memory serves, this one was smaller than P. vindex.

Maybe another species of Phanaeus? says there are 10 species in the genus, but I don't have any guides that list anything other than Phanaeus vindex.

Phanaeus t. triangularis
Outstanding find - this is quite clearly P. t. triangularis - a significant range extension! Some notes to help with the ID: The black color is fairly diagnostic (I have never seen vindex without at least some hint of green or magenta), but the smooth elytra with deeply impressed striae, especially basally is the dead giveaway (vindex is coarsely sculptured and the striae are not prominent). The shape of the pronotum varies in both triangularis and vindex - as a rule, very triangular on major males (large horns), but the posterior angles are reduced, sometimes almost obsolete on minor males.

Phil Harpootlian
Simpsonville, SC

Thanks, Phillip!
Phillip, Thanks very much for the ID. Now I want to find another one!

What is the known range of P. triangularis?

Working out the ranges of beetles is a lot of fun. We are behind the lepidopterists and odonatists, aren't we? So much isn't yet known, or that is the way it strikes me. Do you have any suggestions for a source for checking on the range of a particular beetle?


Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV

Beetles ranges
Stephen, I hope you are able to as well! I would love to get some to distribute.

Additional ID help - compare the elytra (wingcovers) of your speciman above with typical vindex.

The known range of P. t. triangularis is North Carolina, south to Georgia and the Florida panhandle, west to Texas and Kansas (1). South Carolina notes with minor male illustrated (2).

Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive single source for beetle distributions. Typically, you have to find the last monograph on a group, search for later published notes and maybe even visit collections - time consuming. Downie & Arnett (3) did an OK job for those species likely to be found around you in WV.

Good luck

Phil Harpootlian
Simpsonville, SC

Range map of Phanaeus t. triangularis & P. t. texana in Texas
See link for Texas county records for both Phanaeus triangularis texensis and Phanaeus triangularis triangularis.

Incidentally, range maps for *all* Scarabaeidae in the Texas A&M University Insect Collection can be generated from The TIARA Biodiversity Project database.

MQ, Austin

Texas Beetle Info

P. vindex, I think
Dillon (1) illustrates P. vindex and P. difformis, keys on shape of pronotum. This is vindex, based on that comparison. P. difformis seems to be found in south-central an southwest US, not in east. Harpootlian (2) lists vindex, triangularis, igneus, for South Carolina. Again, pronotum shape keys yours to vindex. Also, range--he only lists videx as extending north. I think vindex is a good bet.

I wonder if this is a freshly emerged individual? I've seen Bess Beetles have just a plain brown look when (presumably) freshly transformed. Do you have a date for this photo, even approximate?

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

Date was September 15. I sup
Date was September 15. I suppose there's always the chance that vindex would occasionally appear as a dark individual?


Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV

pushing the range northward...

I've taken Phanaeus t. triangularis in Vinton County, Ohio on a couple of occasions, under dog dung in hardwood forest. A friend who owns property in that same county has taken a number of them as well using pig-dung baited pitfall traps.

Bob Androw

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