Arthropods

Arthropods

Tiger Beetle (Cicindela)

I have been venturing out these past few weeks in the hope that the "season" of bugs has started again in central Thailand. Its been a dire few months in regards to insect spotting and I have been eagerly awaiting the hot season to arrive.

 The hot season heralds the next big change in the forest's cycle. It is an age old signal to many species that the next stepping stone to the season of plenty, the rainy season, has been taken. Many trees are now bearing their fruits in anticipation of the arrival of the rains, birds are beginning to pair for nesting and some butterfly species are agreggating and puddling. It was a relief to head off to one of my little favourite spots and to see the baronness of the last few months replaced by an increased presence and activity of bees, wasps and butterflies. The "bug season" looks to have started at last for central Thailand.

Tiger Beetle - Cosmodela aurulenta juxtata

Cosmodela aurulenta juxtata - Tiger beetle

And with those bees and wasps to feed on, one of my favourite insects, the tiger beetles, are now back on view. I was happy to see at least three tiger beetles of the species Cosmodela aurulenta juxtata this last Sunday morning. They are  a very interesting beetle indeed. They are predatory. They feed on other insects and have evolved to do this by being extremely fast both on the wing and on the ground. They fly rather like a wasp with a lightning fast vertical take-off and manouvering. They are easier to spot though when they are moving on the ground, where their speed sets them out from the other insects.

Cosmodela aurulenta juxtata is quite common and easy to spot on the sandy banks of forest streams hunting their prey. They feed on nearly anything they can see and catch, including invertebrates that may be larger than themselves. Beetles, flies, bees, wasps, caterpillars, ants, grasshopper nymphs, and spiders are just a few of the invertebrates the tiger beetle may prey upon. But approach them slowly as tiger beetles are wary, probably because they are also preyed upon by dragonflies, robber flies, other tiger beetles, birds, and small vertebrates. Yet another fascinating species in Thailand.

Tiger Beetle - Cosmodela aurulenta juxtata

Cosmodela aurulenta juxtata - Tiger beetle eating a bee it has captured

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Paul T's Avatar
Paul T replied the topic: #928 5 years 5 months ago
Another Tiger Beetle with a victim in its jaws, Neocollyris bonellii (I think) in Khao Yai National Park.



Paul T's Avatar
Paul T replied the topic: #942 5 years 5 months ago
I ventured out, for the first time since Songkran started, yesterday. I had to get out as I was going stir-crazy imprisioned in Bangkok. A quick drive out and back in the same day. Before Sunday's mass return to Bangkok by the Songkraners.

A quick jaunt to Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park was on the cards.

Insects are 100% back in the river beds but the forest in the surrounding area had been raised by a forest fire so there was nothing visible in the forest itself. It was hellishy hot out on the exposed stream banks and the sand mites are back - I have not stopped itching since getting back. Worse I had a strange painful sensation in my foot that I suspect may be hookworm. Oh the joys of the forest, if its not leeches its ticks, if its not ticks its.......... ad infinitum.

I did get a few interesting shots of butterflies and bees. As I am still playing around with the new Nikon D7100 and Apple have not yet released a D7100 compatible raw convertor upgrade for Aperture, the photo's preparation will have to wait until the raw convertor is available. I had a peak in Adobe Lightroom which can convert the files but there is something about the Lightroom RAW conversion that I just do not like. I dont know what it is - maybe it is just the Lightroom interface? Maybe I have just gotten so used to Aperture that I am biased against anything else. Anyways - they will have to wait.

I also tried some close-ups on the Tiger Beetles, using my Nikon "big rig". The following shot is one of these - it is not cropped. If only Nikon would release something like the Canon MP-E! macro lens! Then again I would have to get a lot closer to the bug itself which probably would not be possible.

If you look closely you will see a second pair of very small antenae on the back of the head. This is the first time I have noticed them. Also two bright red mites which have attached themselves to the Tiger beetle on its underbody. These mites seem to be evident on most insects at one time or another.


Painted Jezebel's Avatar
Painted Jezebel replied the topic: #944 5 years 5 months ago

trekker wrote: Another Tiger Beetle with a victim in its jaws, Neocollyris bonellii (I think) in Khao Yai National Park.


You may wish to contact Dr. Fabio Cassola, an expert on Tiger Beetles regarding this one. He has confirmed to me that he is always happy to id photos. email - FabioCassola[at]alice.it .

"Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." > Edward O. Wilson

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