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Cicada Hunt!

Try to Solve This Mystery:

Do these beetles eat cicada nymphs?

For the last three summers we have found beetles like 
these in our neighborhood.  One type is black with a hint 
of bronze color and has club-shaped antennae.  The 
other type is reddish bronze and has comb-like antennae:

       
Both types are a bit less than two centimeters long.

We found them in August and September.  Sometimes
we catch them or find them dead.  Other times we watch 
them fly among the branches of our tall elm trees.  
(They make a soft buzzing sound when they fly.)

We looked them up in our old Peterson Field Guide to 
Insects
.  They looked most like sandalid beetles (family 
Sandalidae).  The book said that sandalid beetles are 
"usually found around elm and ash trees in spring and 
fall," and that "they are excellent fliers."  Our beetles 
antennae also fit the description in the book, and the 
feet seemed to confirm our identification.  Here's a 
close-up of  the underside of the middle foot from one 
beetle.  It closely matched a drawing in the field guide:


(We took these pictures with our
Intel Play QX3 computer microscope at 60x).

  
We were excited by the last sentence about 
sandalid beetles:  "Larvae are parasites of
cicada nymphs."  That means that baby
sandalid beetles eat baby cicadas!

There must be a really interesting story here,
but we couldn't find anything more about
sandalid beetles on the Web or in our insect
books.  We're trying to find out more at our 
local library and from the experts who
developed cicada Websites.  

Can you help us find out more? 
E-mail us at Cicadas@SaltTheSandbox.org 

  
Here's the citation for our Peterson guide to insects:

Donald J. Borror and Richard E. White. 1970. A Field
Guide to Insects of America North of Mexico
. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company.

    

NEXT:  What species of cicadas did we find?

     

Go back to the main Cicada Mysteries page


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Copyright 2000-2001 Eric D. Gyllenhaal                 Table of Contents                Search this Site
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This page was created on August 30, 2000, and it was last updated on July 27, 2002.