Thursday, February 23, 2012

Firefly Mimics - A Crafty Click Beetle

I learned two things during my Investigative Studies Project last summer concerning mimicry:
  1.  Fireflies get mimicked a whole lot
  2. It's super tricky to separate some of the mimics from actual fireflies, especially when you get into the soldier beetles (family Cantharidae).
A group I wasn't aware mimicked fireflies is the click beetle family, Elateridae. During my research I spotted a pretty example of one of the representatives from this family:

Unless you were to get on this click beetle's level, you would think it's a firefly. I'm quite pleased with this picture, though it could use a little more touching up later. Denticollis denticornis is this beetle's name, and it was making its way across a moss and lichen-covered log, providing a great background.

This is the only species in its genus in North America, and its mimicry of fireflies is a predator defense. I haven't found any information about whether or not the beetle itself is toxic, or if it's just getting a free ride thanks to the fireflies. A predator would see it and be all "I'm staying away from that beetle, it must be toxic!" and D. denticollis would chuckle to itself and walk away.

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