Entomopathogenic Fungi

 

Click to view enlarged images!

Genus Beauveria is white entomopathogenic fungi that can act as a parasite of insects and kills or seriously disables them. This wasn’t my first time seeing it on insects, but a first on stag beetle. The insect specimen in the picture is female Lucanus placidus Say, I collected about a month ago in Louisiana. I kept it alive for a while, to get some eggs out of it, and found out the female is now dead.

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Dermestid Beetle Infection to the Collections!!

Dermestid Beetles are beetle family Dermestidae under the order Coleoptera that feed on dead organisms. Specifically, dead insects in this case. They can be a real pain and damage to the museum collections as all they do is eat, eat, and EAT those food! or the valuable collections to the museum scientists.

I first encountered while living in rather an old apartment complex where pest management is poorly done. I’ve been seeing number of silverfish and dermestid beetles every weekend while cleaning. Now I moved to a house, hoped not to see any of those pest, but….. THIS!! Must be from the time when I was in the apartment.

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All I have to do is just place that entire unit tray into the freezer to freeze them to death. I think this particular infected specimen is the most recent collection placed in this unit tray, as well as in this drawer. However, as the specimen is collected on July 2016, I’m unsure whether it has infiltrated at the time of placement, or in a later date. I’m hoping there isn’t any hole or gap anywhere on the drawer. Collections in this drawer is non-scarabs, that I rarely ever touch, which may be the reason that I finally, after the entire leg chewed up, found the infection. Although, there are some valuable (as in rarity) collections in this drawer, so I’m afraid to see any pest inside. I hope that one unit tray is the only one that had the dermestid beetles.

The Dynastine Scarab Beetles of the United States and Canada (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae)

Finally, the book I’ve been waiting for has been published and printed out! The book is The Dynastine Scarab Beetles of the United States and Canada (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae), discussing 61 species and 2 subspecies of rhinoceros beetles occurring in the U.S. and Canada.


Below is an image of the book cover and information:

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 5.52.15 PM%5b1%5d.pngThe Dynastine Scarab Beetles of the United States and Canda (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae)
by Brett C. Ratcliffe and Ronald D. Cave
December 2017
298 pages

Abstract. The 61 species and two subspecies of dynastine scarab beetles that occur in the United States of America (including Guam) and Canada are comprehensively reviewed. Detailed discussions of historical collecting, climate, vegetation, and habitats (with color images) are presented. Keys to all tribes, genera, and species in the study area are given. Descriptions, recorded geographic localities and temporal distributions, diagnoses, notes on natural history, color illustrations, and distribution maps are provided for all species. Also included are synopses of the  higher-level taxa of the subfamily in the region, a glossary, and a species checklist.

Cyclocephala knobelae Brown is a new junior synonym of Cyclocephala robusta LeConte (Cyclocephalini). Euetheola rugiceps (LeConte) (Pentodontini) is elevated to species from a subspecies (newrevised status). Dyscinetus laevicollis Arrow (Cyclocephalini) is a new country record reported for the first time from the USA.

http://museum.unl.edu/pubs/bulletin30.html


With such a great opportunity, I provided some fine habitus images and live images of scarab beetles studied in the book. Dr. Brett C. Ratcliffe has sent me a gift of a copy today by mail. This is the fifth series of The Dynastine Scarab Beetles of…

The followings are the series:
1. The Dynastine Scarab Beetles of Costa Rica and Panama by Brett C. Ratcliffe, 2003.
2. The Dynastine Scarab Beetles of Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador by Brett C. Ratcliffe and Ronald D. Cave, 2006.
3. The Dynastine Scarab Beetles of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize by Brett C. Ratcliffe, Ronald D. Cave, and Enio B. Cano, 2013.
4. The Dynastine Scarab Beetles of the West Indies by Brett C. Ratcliffe and Ronald D. Cave, 2015.
5. The Dynastine Scarab Beetles of the United States and Canada by Brett C. Ratcliffe and Ronald D. Cave, 2017.

As I’m interested in and studying the Nearctic scarab beetles, this book is absolutely the one I’ve been waiting for so much. I have some series of scarab collections from state Louisiana. Common ones are quite easy to identify with very distinctive characteristics, while others not. This book will definitely help me out with IDs and biology of the species. The next in series, I heard, will be the Ecuador.

Microscope focus rack-camera adapter

08 December 2017

Most of the beetle plate images I upload on this page are focus-stacked images of, in average, from 20 to 50 images. Museums and Institutions now commonly use this photographing technique to illustrate the clear and focused image of insect specimens, with electronically and remotely moving focus rails and lenses. Since those equipment are very expensive, I just tightly hold down my camera on desk with one hand then turning the focus ring with my other hand to move the focus point. I then merge the files into one single file using Adobe Photoshop. It usually works well, as long as legs or any other part of specimen do not cross over each other. If they cross over each other, I will be needing more and more images to accurately process it. This, however, is very inconvenient way of shooting as I do not have the fancy equipment. I decided to make an adapter for the camera to be attached on a focus rack of my microscope. I quickly measured rough sizes of camera, lens, focus rack, etc. to draw up on CAD for 3D printing.

3D print design

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Finished product from the 3D printing service

L: Adapter fits on focus rack perfectly!
R: Camera fits on the adapter very well!

This is how the adapter sits on the rack to hold the camera tightly. Now, I’m able to change the focus more slightly in detail, and more conveniently work on shooting images. As I don’t have to change the focus by turning the focus ring of the lens, I can take more and more shots of images. Below is an example image from this method of Mecynorrhina polyphemus female. Fifty two files are merged.

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If I held the camera on hand and try to change the focus point by turning the lens, I might have ended up taking only about 20 images or more. Excuse me for such a dusty specimen. In case of specimens with depth, like major species in genus Golofa, I might be able to easily take more than 100 images. Next project for this method would be the LIGHTINGS, the flash diffuser, most likely.

The Unit Tray System

20 August 2017

The Unit Tray System is one method of organizing and sorting your collections in collection drawers. Using small trays, you can categorize and group specimens. Many research institutes use this unit tray system. To help your understanding, let’s say, you took numerous images of insects including beetles, butterflies, flies, bees, and ants. You will have to make folders per their taxons and save each files into appropriate folders, right? This is somewhat a ‘sorting,’ and this is what you can apply to insect collections as well.

In the United States and Canada, the Unit Tray System is what basically used, and applied in many institutions and private collections. I started using after I entered college, majoring entomology just because I didn’t have many different taxon until then. Although I only collect and keep scarab beetles, I now have many different species, so I’m still using this system. Here I’m explaining the general purpose of using the system, and discusses the pros and cons.

PURPOSE
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Sorting per species, per groups…
Generally, you sort the specimens per species/subspecies in the single unit tray to separate and organize the specimens per ‘what they are.’ Sometimes, when there aren’t many numbers of species or having difficulty of determining the species level, you can group them in a single tray as Genus spp. or Family spp.

PROS
You can easily and safely (to specimens) move around the specimens to different spot or drawers, and you can always add more specimens of same species already deposited in the middle of the drawer.
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If you keep and organize as above in the picture, and when you want to add more specimens of what you already have, you will have to move each specimen away to make a space. For example, if you want to add couple of more Lamprima sp. (green), you will have to move those three Aegus laevicollis (black) and Dynastes tityus (yellow) away to make enough space. However, if you are using the unit tray system as image below…
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You can easily add more specimens in the drawer without a fuss of moving specimens around. In other words, it is convenient to add more specimens of what you already have and to sort specimens. You always keep the close taxon together for scientific collections, so you can easily add new species into the drawer. For example, Dorcus titanus sspp.(Coleoptera: Lucanidae) has a lot of subspecies and when you want to add more you can easily move around the unit trays to make enough space for the new trays. No worry to damage the specimen while handle them and it is very convenient.

CONS
Trays use up spaces.
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If you don’t use the unit tray system, and just pin down the specimen into the drawer, you can have 30 Dynastes tityus males like in the image above. However, if you use unit tray system as image below…
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because of the walls created by those unit trays, you are lacking enough space to place the specimens.

Recommend unit tray system if…
you are collecting many different species and groups, and always having more and more specimens as time passes. If you are collecting on your own, yes.

Do no recommend unit tray system if…
you don’t collect many different species or specimens are not added up, the unit tray system won’t be useful. If you only keep one species in a drawer, then unit tray system is useless, unless you sort them in different purpose, like per size, per gender, etc.

*I will promptly update the post for additional information.