Precious Metal Scarabs

Scarabaeidae, Rutelinae, Rutelini, Plusiotis and Pelidnota.

These two, closely related genera contain some of the world's most beautiful insects because of their polished metal colors. A true "gold bug" is Plusiotis batesi (fig. 9.9a), which is solid, white gold over the entire body. Other species are pure silver (Plusiotis chrysargyrea), burnished copper (Pelidnota virescens), and shining steel (Pelidnota sumptuosa; fig. 9.9b). In other species, the surfaces are not shining, but more like porcelain. They are no less brilliant and Strikingly colorful and may have metallic reflections or streaks of silver contrasting with a green background (Hardy 1975).

There are about 200 species of these living jewels widely distributed over tropical America, from the United States frontier to Peru. Most are montane, living especially in cloud forests toward the south and in dry forests in the north. They all seem to be nocturnal and are usually only seen when attracted to artificial lights.

Virtually nothing is known of the life histories of the members of the group. The larvae of some have been found feeding on the roots of oaks and pines in Mexico and Central America. Hosts in South America remain undiscovered. The adults are said to feed on oak foliage where these trees grow (Morón 1981). There is one unconfirmed record of Plusiotis chrysargyrea from the roble tree (Tecoma pentaphylla = Tabebuia pentaphylla) in Costa Rica (Boucard 1878).


Boucard, A. 1878. Notes on some Coleoptera of the genus Plusiotis, with descriptions of three new species from Mexico and Central America. Zool. Soc. London Proc. 1878: 293-296, pi. xvi, figs. 1-5. Hardy, A. R. 1975. A revision of the genus Pelidnota of America north of Panama (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae; Rutelinae). Univ. Calif. Publ. Entomol. 78: 1-43. Morón, M. A. 1981. Descripción de dos especies nuevas de Plusiotis Burmeister, 1844 y discusión de algunos aspectos zoogeo-gráficos del grupo de especies "costata" (Coleoptera, Melolonthidae, Rutelinae). Fol. Entorno!. Mexicana 49: 49—69.

Green-Gold Beetle

Scarabaeidae, Rutelinae, Chrysophora chrysochlora.

The green-gold beetle is a fairly common scarab. The male (BL 3.8 cm) (fig. 9.9c) is decidedly larger than the female (BL 2.9 cm) (fig. 9.9d). The male also is unique in possessing tremendously elongate, heavy, curved hind legs that bear outsized spurs on the insides of the tips of the tibia and enlarged tarsal claws. The function of

Figure 9.9 SCARAB BEETLES (SCARABAEIDAE). (a) Gold beetle (Plusiotus bates/), (b) Precious metal beetle (Pelidnota sumptuosa). (c) Green-gold beetle (Chrysophora chrysochlora), male, (d) Green-gold beetle, female, (e) Big-legged scarab (Chrysina sp.).
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