Montana Public Radio

beetles

Bug Bytes: Burying Beetles And Mites

Jun 16, 2020
Photo courtesy of Kyle Hartse

Burying beetles are often called sexton beetles since they perform duties similar to a sexton or gravedigger.

These beetles have an amazing ability to locate fresh carrion from long distances, allowing them to find this valuable food source before competing scavengers do. But rather than consume the departed mouse, vole, shrew or other small vertebrate for themselves, they have other plans.

Bug Bytes: Spittlebugs

Jun 12, 2020
A spittlebug nymph and adults.
Missoula Insectarium

You’re in your garden or maybe out for a walk in the woods …and you come across what looks like a fresh loogie someone just spit onto a plant. Gross!

Relax. A fellow human likely did not leave behind the white, foamy goop. It’s the telltale sign of a spittlebug.

Hibernating ladybugs (Coccinellidae)
Flickr user, Jason (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Every autumn I begin to wonder: where do all the bugs go? Unlike people, and other warm-blooded critters that can maintain a consistent internal temperature, insects cannot. So, you might wonder, what do insects do to survive the cold?

Bug Bytes: Bombardier Beetle

May 7, 2019
Bombardier Beetle - Paussinae subfamily, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.
Credit Judy Gallagher [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

If any beetle was said to have an “explosive personality,” it would have to be the bombardier beetle.

They may appear to be your average, everyday beetle, but they’ve got a surprise up their tiny little sleeves — or more accurately, their rear ends. They’ve got some serious junk in the trunk.

A beaver swims through a forest pond.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0)

In the great stands of old cottonwood trees along prairie rivers, chemical skirmishes are taking place between beavers, cottonwoods, and a certain species of beetle. Beavers gnaw on the trees; the trees fight back with toxic compounds; and the beetles move in to feast on the toxins. But in this apparent conflict, all three species benefit.