Giant Fungus Beetles

Erotylidae, Erotylinae.

Species in the genus Erotylus (fig. 9.21) are the most frequently observed members from this diverse family. They are moderate-sized (BL 2—3 cm) beetles with an elliptical body and often strongly convex (even conical) elytra. The latter are brightly colored with red or yellow spots or zigzagging colored lines running transversely across a black field.

The family has been neglected by biologists, and little is known regarding its natural history. The beetles are diurnal, traversing the ground or walking about on logs and stones. Adults and larvae live in fungi on the bark of jungle trees. Female

Pselaphicus giganteus from Trinidad guard newly hatched larvae and guide them to their first fungus meal. They also synchronize egg laying with fungal development and select logs with fungi beginning to grow (O'Toole and Preston-Mafham 1985). The larvae of some Erotylus are known to cluster when pupating under fallen trees, the pupae hanging like butterfly chrysalids from the shed larval skins (orig. obs.).

Some species (Cypherotylus dromedarius) are mimicked by tenebrionid beetles (Cupho-tes immaculipes) (figs. 9.2j, k), and other genera (Priotelus) by ground beetles (Eury-coleus) (Erwin and Erwin 1976).

Erotylids are protected by an apparently foul-tasting liquid exuded from the knee joints and anus and by their strange flopping actions followed by dropping to the ground and feigning death.

References

Erwin, T. L., and L. J. M. Erwin. 1976. Relationships of predaceous beetles to tropical forest wood decay. Pt. II. The natural history of Neotropical Eurycoleus macularis Chevrolat (Carabidae: Lebiini) and its implication in the evolution of ectoparasitoidism. Biotropica 8: 215-224. O'Toole, C., and K. Preston-Mafham. 1985. Insects in camera: A photographic essay on behaviour. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford.

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