Western Specialties

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Living in Western Canada is pretty sweet. Especially here on the coast, we have a plethora of awesome insects that only occur in this region. I am trying to savour these insects while I can, as this fall I am moving to Toronto.

The snakeflies (Raphidioptera) are awesome animals, with a delightfully elongate prothorax and long bladelike ovipositors. These insects are fairly common in the early spring in a Garry Oak meadow not far from my mother’s house, so whenever I am in the vicinity at the right time I keep an eye out for them.

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The most common snakeflies in BC are members of the genus Agulla.

 

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What I had not noticed about these insects is how the pronotum wraps around ventrally, like a shield. Also look at the awesome ornamentation on the thorax!

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The larvae of snakeflies are difficult to find, but if you flip over enough rocks or logs, you may just find one!

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In fact, flipping over logs is exactly how I found this next western treasure…A tiger beetle that may just shatter your image of tiger beetles forever.

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This is Omus dejeani, often referred to by its awesome common name, the greater night-stalking tiger beetle. This is a tiger that could easily be mistaken at a glance for a carabine, if not for the shape of the thorax. This is not a slender, bright, iridescent speedster, but rather a hulking, powerful night terror.

 

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Yes, make no mistake, this is a tiger through and through. The mandibles tell the tale. Bugguide has this to say about the origin of the generic name Omus: Probably from Greek omos (ωμος)- “raw, crude” or “savage, fierce, cruel”

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Regardless of the name, this beetle is a truly impressive beast, though I rarely encounter it. I wonder if it could be because of the introduction of the two similarly-sized invasive carabines Carabus granulatus and Carabus nemoralis.

Anyhow, regardless of where you live, get out and enjoy what your region has to offer. Insect season is in full swing, and life is short. This summer I will keep flipping logs to savour the western specialties!

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Log flipping also brought me an encounter with another western treasure: the rough skinned newt (Taricha granulosa). Who doesn’t love a newt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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