Net-Winged Beetle

The banded net-wing beetle, Calopteron terminale has brilliant yellow orange elytra (front wings) with purplish black at the tips. Yellow and black is effective warning coloration. The lycids are typically predatory as larvae and feed as adults on insects or dead plant material. They produce toxic phenols and foul smelling pyrazines that deter predators such as insectivorous birds..

Top: A Female (right) and Male (left) Net -Winged Beetle Bottom: Clear View of the Male

Interestingly, the net-wing beetles are attacked by another type of beetle, a cerambycid that mimics the color of the net-winged beetle. The cerambycids can consume the net winged beetles toxins and process them safely. The cerambycids sequester the net-winged beetle toxins and use them for their own protection.

The pair of net-winged beetles in the photo were busy mating. Note that the male is much smaller than the female.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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9 Responses to Net-Winged Beetle

  1. Asya Ayrapetov says:

    Is it common among insects for the male to be so much smaller than the female?

  2. jjneal says:

    Many insects, the female is at least slightly larger especially when she is full of eggs. There are extreme cases such as stick insects with females almost twice as large as males. Larger size disparities are less common than smaller size disparities but some size disparity is common.

  3. Asya Ayrapetov says:

    That’s interesting. Is that because reproduction is more costly in females, so having a larger body size increases the probability of success when it comes to supporting the eggs until they are ready to be laid (or hatched inside the female, as is the case in some species, right?). Is the severity of size disparity correlated in any way to the mating system (i.e. sexual, parthenogenesis, etc)?

    • jjneal says:

      Mature insect eggs are relatively large compared to body size of insects, so the female must be large enough to accommodate them. The male can be smaller because sperm are much smaller than eggs. I don’t know of any correlation between mating system and size disparity. Insects have evolved many interesting characters. However, if male territoriality is important, there can be sexual selection for larger males that are more capable of taking and defending territory from other males.

  4. Hello,
    Very neat stuff. Do you have a reference for the Cerambycid that attacks the net-wings? I’m looking as well in your literature. Thank you!!

    Best,
    Kenny

    • jjneal says:

      Tom Eisner wrote about the mimicry in the 1960s.

      Lycid Predation by Mimetic Adult Cerambycidae (Coleoptera)
      T. Eisner, F. C. Kafatos and E. G. Linsley
      Evolution . Vol. 16, No. 3, Sep., 1962 of 316-324

      This paper would reference previous work:
      Defensive chemistry of lycid beetles and of mimetic cerambycid beetles that feed on them
      Author(s): Eisner Thomas; Schroeder Frank C.; Snyder Noel; et al.
      CHEMOECOLOGY Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Pages: 109-119 DOI: 10.1007/s00049-007-0398-4 Published: JUN 2008

  5. Anonymous says:

    Jon,
    Thank you very much, should have figured it was Tom’s work :-). Very cool stuff. Got the articles on the way.
    Best,
    Kenny

  6. Laura says:

    I just saw one of these bugs in my yard and then my cat ran up and ate it… are they toxic to animals?

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