Beetles are insects that belong to the order coleoptera. Like other insects, beetles have six legs, compound eyes, a pair of antennae and a set of mandibles. Their bodies are divided into three main segments: the head, thorax and abdomen. Some beetles have wings and can fly. Arizona's Sonoran desert is an area rich in biodiversity and home to many interesting plants and animals that have adapted to desert conditions.
Cactus Longhorn Beetle
Cactus longhorn beetles are shiny, black beetles that have long antennae and grow up to 1.5 inches in length. The larvae feast on both the roots and stems of the cactus plant, while the adults enjoy munching on cactus stems. The chollas and prickly pear cacti are where these bugs are most often found, and they can cause severe damage to the cactus.
There are two types of blister beetles found in Arizona. The iron cross blister beetle, which grows up to 1 inch long, has a distinctive red head, and the hardened wings covering its thorax are black and yellow. These beetles can be found in groups in spring and can fly.
The master blister beetle is a half an inch bigger than its iron cross relative and also has a red head. The hardened wing coverings are black.
Net-Winged Beetles are soft-bodied beetles that have orange and black wings. The beetles' bright and distinctive coloring warns predators of its foul taste and thereby protects it from becoming another creature's lunch. The pinacate beetle has a more interactive form of defense. This black, flightless beetle will squirt from one of its glands a nasty-smelling, horrible-tasting liquid at predators or anyone who tries to get too close. While this is enough to fend off most attackers, there is one predator who has learned how to get around this. The grasshopper mouse places the rear end of the beetle, where the gland is located, into the desert sand and eats the beetle head-first but stops before it gets to the unpleasant tasting parts.
The convergent ladybird beetle gets its name from the converging white lines on its black thorax. Its wings are orange with numerous black spots or no spots at all. The larvae and fully grown ladybird eat aphids. The larvae go through complete metamorphosis and return to the mountains for the winter and then return to lay their eggs in the valley. Convergent ladybirds frequently collect in large groups.
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