Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hoplia Beetles on Western Azalea

One of California's truly spectacular flowers is the western azalea. Every time I see this plant in bloom - with its large showy white flowers - I have to remind myself that this is not an escaped houseplant.

I came across a couple of these very beautiful bushes this last week near Big Creek (a few miles north of Pine Flat Reservoir) in Fresno County. On one of the plants I discovered dozens of Hoplia beetles. These are scarabs with only a single claw on each foot (tarsus) that are ideal for hanging onto plants.
Fortunately for the azaleas, the beetles liked to aggregate around only a few flowers while feeding. I wonder if they taste as good as they look?

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