What is a coleopterist? Want to guess? I will give you two guesses. Ready?

Could it be a medical doctor who specializes in matters of the tummy? No, that would be a colorectal surgeon or a gastroenterologist. Good guess, though!

How about an interior decorator who is good at color matching? Getting that new chair or couch to match the shade of wall or carpet is becoming a super-specialty. No, a color consultant would not be a coleopterist although color is a prime concern of our unknown specialist. Give up?

                 A coleopterist studies and is an expert on Coleoptera! Now you know, and how much wiser are you? Not much, you say? The Coleoptera is the largest grouping of insects worldwide and as much as 40% of insects belong to this group. Beetles! That is what coleopterists study! Beetles.

A Hundred of the Million Beetle Varieties.

Coleoptera comes from a Greek word meaning “sheath wing” referring to the front wing case that protects the body and flying wings. The name “beetle” comes from an Old English word meaning “to bite” and a few do. The hardened forewings are called “elytra” (plural) and, referring to just one is called an “elytron”.

Front wings are elytra; rear are real wings.

                Beetles, like all insects, have three body parts, two antennae, four wings (two of which are elytra, two eyes, a mouth, six legs, and usually, but not always – cerci or an ovipositor on its rear. They can eat most anything – fungi, green or decaying vegetable matter, larvae, each other, but not necessarily humans. They can be microscopic or very large – up to seven inches long!

The Hercules Beetle is the largest and lives in the American tropics.

                Some are very destructive such as the Colorado Potato Beetle and the Japanese Beetle – my nemesis!

Look for the Potato Beetle in your garden!

Look in your garden – he is there!

If he weren’t so repulsive – he would be cute!

And, of course, some benefit the gardener such as the Ladybird Beetle and the King of the Jungle – The Tiger Beetle.

Preying – The Ladybird. Praying – the Aphid.
A Tiger by any other name is just as fierce!

                In the next several posts, I will introduce new terms relating to beetles and the field of Coleoptera. So far, we have learned a few terms – Coleopterist, elytra, elytron, cercus, ovipositor, plus how to recognize several different beetles – some good – some bad.

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