Insects In Rare Locations

Copris gopheri

Copris gopheri
Illustration: H.G. Hubbard

The gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus is a long lived tortoise that digs burrows deep underground. The tortoise is considered threatened and is protected under US-FWS rules. The burrows are sizable and invite over 350 species of animal “guests” including many species of insects. In 1894 Henry G Hubbard published The Insect Guests of the Florida Land Tortoise. Hubbard was interested in a rare frog that was reported to inhabit the tortoise burrow. He began excavation of a tortoise burrow in 1893, an undertaking that required much digging and the creation of a large pit. Hubbard found his frog and numerous other inhabitants that he also collected. His findings encouraged him to excavate more burrows: eight in total.

Hubbard found:
8 Species of Beetles, including a coprophagous species feeding on turtle droppings.
1 Undescribed species of caterpillar that feeds on turtle dung. Attempts at rearing the species to adulthood were unsuccessful.
1 Species of Wingless Cricket.
2 Species of pseudoscorpion.
2 Species of ticks.

Many of the species encountered lacked eyes and possessed long sensory bristles- adaptations for the dark environment. Many of the new species described by Hubbard had close relatives that were adapted to life above ground indicating a recent association with the burrows of tortoises,

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.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment, Taxonomy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Insects In Rare Locations

  1. I wonder if we know now what species of caterpillar that was.

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