Beetle look-alikes. And some flies.

I’ve seen quite a few elongated beetles with rust/orange wing covers of late and assumed that they are Long-nosed Lycid Beetles (Porrostoma rhipidius) that I’ve photographed previously, but as I’ve seen them mostly on the wing, I’ve not been able to tell for sure. The first time I got a good look at my supposed Lycid Beetle through the macro lens, I was surprised to find it was actually a Red Belid Weevil – Rhinotia haemoptera. I’ve seen a great abundance of Belid Weevils this spring – more than I’ve ever seen, but none with these fantastic brick-red wing covers.

Red Belid Weevil on Rough Wattle

I was so stunned by its likeness to the Lycid Beetle. Then I found one of the the latter resting on a Cassinia.

Long-nosed Lycid Beetle.

Not just the red wing covers, but the black head and body are so strikingly similar. So I was intrigued to read on the very helpful brisbaneinsects.com that the Red Belid Weevil gets a considerable advantage by looking so like its Coleoptera cousin. It turns out that the Lycid Beetle is quite poisonous to eat and its bright colour signifies this to predators. The Weevil gets the same protection without having to be poisonous – just by looking like someone who is. It might also explain why both of these insects seemed utterly unconcerned by my interest, not for a moment considering themselves to be a meal.

Coleoptera means sheathed wing and is the name for the order of beetles. The covers that protect their delicate wings are called elytra. These are modified forewings that allow beetles to get into places that would otherwise destroy their delicate flight wings. Many beetles favourite escape mechanism is to simply drop before flying off, presumably as it’s faster than deploying wings from under the elytra. Often,however, they are quite happy to pose for photographers, like this Comb-clawed Darkling Beetle.

Comb-clawed Darkling Beetle on Red-anther Wallaby Grass flowers

With the abundance of Shiny Everlasting blossoms happening at the moment, it’s a great time to get photos of flies as they collect pollen.

Genus Metallea
Hoverfly

Flies are often nervous, but I find that when an insect has found a flower that it really likes, it stays put even with a camera and big flash diffuser right over it. Is it that it’s so good that it’s worth the risk, or do they not identify me as a threat?

Sleeping flies are also a bonus for the photographer. One seemed to be asleep in broad daylight on a Golden Wattle leaf. I’ve not been able to identify this one, but wonder if it might be a Tachinid fly.

Tachinid fly?

A Hardenbergia in our yard is a favourite napping spot by night for Lauxaniid flies. I can guarantee finding quite a number of them most spring nights. They are always on the northern side of the plant. It took me a while to come up with the hypothesis that they liked the shelter from the cool southerly breeze that’s present however subtle on most nights.

Lauxiniid fly.

6 responses to “Beetle look-alikes. And some flies.

  1. Andrew Zylinski

    Many red-elytraed beetles on the wing in Wangaratta region too… will check them for weevilly qualities now that you have alerted me to the possibility, thankyou!

  2. Thought you might be interested….

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. I’ve also noted the many red backed beetles flying around Wangaratta and will also be more observant in future .Thanks for the tutorial

    As an aside I just noted my first Fiddler beetle for this summer yesterday also in Wangaratta see pic https://twitter.com/vk3jmc/status/1334324823808348160/photo/1

  4. What extraordinary detail natural selection has effected. Great images – thanks.

  5. After your most excellent tutorial on these red-winged beetle buddies Patrick, I will now have to go back and check all my photos in the hope I’ve accidentally scored myself a pic or two of the Belid Weevil. Thanks for the heads-up! 🙂

  6. Update to my previous comment– I finally got a good look at one of these red backed beetles I had seen earlier this year. Yesterday one flew past me at knee high and landed on a fallen log about 3m away and I was able to get a good view with my bins and it was indeed a weevil like the above image. Unfortunately I was unable to get a photo. This was in woodlands along the Ovens river

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