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Insect origami

October 24, 2021
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Like most insect Orders the name for the group of insects that includes beetles is derived from two Greek words describing the insect’s wings. Coleoptera comes from koleus meaning sheath and pteron meaning wing. It describes the hard ‘shield-like’ outer wings that protect the more fragile flying wings underneath. All members of this order have two pairs of wings. The outer wings are known as elytra. When the beetle is in flight the elytra are drawn up and away to allow the flying wings to unfurl. For most beetles the elytra cover the entire length of the abdomen.

Rove Beetles (pictured above) comprise a group of insects where the elytra are significantly shortened. In the natural world the Rove Beetle family comprises the largest number of organisms in a single group. As such they are widely varied in their habits and distributions. These beetles in our district are typically varied combinations of black and red. The elytra usually only cover the first few segments of the abdomen.

The majority of Rove Beetles, both adults and larvae, are voracious predators feeding on insects and other invertebrates. The Devil’s Coach Horse (Creophilus erythrocephalus), pictured left, feeds on maggots (fly larvae) and can be found in carcasses of mammals. They neither bite nor sting humans but contain a powerful toxin that can cause contact dermatitis when touched.

It is wrong to assume that due to the small elytra the rove beetle has small flying wings and is therefore a poor flyer. The picture right shows a Rove Beetle with its flying wings extended. When at rest the beetle needs to undertaking a complex folding manoeuvre to store its flying wings under the red elytra.

Insect origami.

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