Friday, April 20, 2012

Meloe opacus

Blister beetles in the genus Meloe feed on solitary (native) bees as larvae. I have seen several species through the years and almost all of them have been clambering along the ground – often in pairs. This individual I found at Wishon Campground east of Porterville, California (in the Sierra Nevada) a couple of weeks ago. In this group the unusually-shaped middle segments of the antennae indicate that it is a male.

In collections, these beetles appear much smaller than they do alive. Most of the abdomen is hollow and, in pinned specimens, it shrinks into a wrinkled and asymmetrical piece of exoskeleton. This one was nearly an inch long alive.

The campground habitat is mixed pine and oak. As far as bees go, There were a few bumblebees about and colletid bees. And just a few hundred feet above the campground (which is at around 4,000 feet) was a blanket of snow. Clearly these beetles are fine with cold weather.

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