Monday, September 3, 2012

Caught in a Web

          This last weekend I have been out of town on a family trip to the Mammoth Lakes area in North East California. Because of that, this 'weekly post' is a few days late. My apologies to any early followers of this blog. As far as beautiful mountains went, this last weekend was spectacular. The lakes up at 1000 ft. evel. couldn't have been more refreshing, and the water up there doesn't get better than straight out of the tap.

This post isn't about the very few bugs I found at Mammoth though, it's about a Bycid I found in a different part of California, on the other side of the Sierra's, in a much different spot than you may expect (unless of course you read the title :p), a Spider Web! This was a much cooler Beetle than the Cyclocephala (Masked Chafers) than get caught in Black Widow webs on my porch, it was Arhopalus asperatus, belonging to the relatively small subfamily, Spondylidinae.

Arhapalus asperatus (LeConte, 1859)

It was found is decent condition for a dead specimen, (only the tibia on the front two left legs missing, easily represented by the right leg segments, (don't let the picture fool you, the front right tibia is there!)). This and Buprestis viridisuturalis are the only dead specimens I remember collecting. Sometimes, even dead specimens would just look too darn good in a collection to pass up. While I don't see anything wrong with this, it is equally as vital to include that the specimen was found dead, along with the rest of the information on the label. This one has a third label that has written: "Found dead in Spider Web." After finding this individual tangled in a web in the crevice of a building near Shaver Lake, I've started inspecting other webs I find in the outdoors (none note worthy yet, though feel free to tell me about any bugs you readers may have found in webs).

This species is easily distinguished from the other 4 U.S. species by the comparatively rough pronotum, however if you don't have other species to compare with, the ninth antenna segment is only about 2/5 the length of the eighth, thereby, being abruptly abbreviated rather than gradually, as seen here. I've been fortunate enough to collect it's lesser common close relative; Arhapolus productus, only, A. productus was alive when I collected it.

I look forward to photographing this species alive and in nature next year, but until then, this pinned specimen will have to do. Unfortunately, the bugs are going into hiding right now so there won't be too many pictures of live recent finds until next Spring (Pleocoma and some sand dune finds might be some of the few). Just like most insects, I stay tucked away during the colder months, spending my time pinning, labeling, identifying and organizing bugs.

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