Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Under a Log, part 2

Summer break is here, so I hope to be visiting more frequently now. After posting the forest insect blog, I had a few leftovers I thought deserved their own compilation. This is the larva of the Eyed Elater, or Click Beetle. All click beetle larvae have this rusty-orange appearance, or sclerotized plates on their back. These guys feed on decaying plant matter or fungi. The larvae are often called Wireworms.

Here's a closeup of the adult showing the false eyes. This is the largest species in our area.

Roaming around the bark was this smaller species known as Ampedus nigricollis. All species of click beetles have a spine that protrudes out the back of the thorax. In this one you can see the black spine sitting between the beginning of the wings. They use this to "click" and jump their way out of danger, or to right themselves when on their backs.

Darkling Beetles, Tenebrionidae, are commonly found wherever there is decomposing plant or animal matter. Considered beneficial insects, they feed on leftovers that others pass by. People who keep reptiles and amphibians as pets often use the larvae as food. They are known as Mealworms.

Flat Bark Beetle, Uleiota dubius

Cucujus clavipes, Red Flat Bark Beetle. As the name implies, these beetles are completely flat in appearance. Always found under bark, their larvae are considered predacious, but little is known about their biology.

No surprise we would expect to see one of the top scavengers in dead wood, a common Wood Roach. These are usually not considered household pests.

I heard an interesting buzzing coming from under the bark. Taking shelter from the rain was this very small Square-headed Wasp of the genus Lestica.

Looking like little bird nests, these are Weevil Cocoons. The beetle larvae take wood slivers and arrange them in a circle, where they then pupate into adults.

Other scavengers of the forest include the millipedes. This colorful species is Euryurus leachii.

Another common species is the Giant American Millipede, Narceus americanus. Millipedes roll into a ball as their first line of defense. If that doesn't work, they then secrete a foul smelling chemical. You can see this throughout the body here as little droplets.

Everybody is familiar with mushrooms, or the fruiting body of fungi, but it's the white Mycelium under the bark that is the true living portion of fungus. Mycelium usually spreads through trees in a fan like shape. Some are tree killers, but the majority are important decomposers of plant material.

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