What’s in a name: Calligraphy Beetles, Twice-stabbed Stinkbugs and more

One of the best insect names I know is the Calligraphy Beetle. This one is  Calligrapha confluens, and both the larva and the beetle itself feed only on alder.

Calligraoha conflouens, feeding on alder

I like to imagine  that an ancient Tang dynasty Chinese scholar took brush and ink, and wrote a poem to this beetle on its carapace, in lü shi, or regulated verse.

Here is its patterning from above:

Calligraoha conflouens, feeding on alder

It is not a ladybug (lady bird for you Brits), but in the family Chrysomelidae, or Leaf Beetles.

I found a quite different bug yesterday, which I assumed to be related, but it isn’t. This one is a Twice-stabbed Stinkbug, Cosmopepla linteriana, on a mint leaf. 

It is a nymph, i.e. not yet an adult, and when it is all grown up it will be black and red, with two bloody spots that give it its name:

Like all stinkbugs they produce a smell in self-defence. I have never smelled it, because I cannot bring myself to bully the tiny stink bug.

This is a very smart Spotted Cucumber Beetle, on a rose. And look what is hiding underneath the petal:

This beetle delights in the scientific name of Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi, which would appear to imply it has 11 spots, but I count 12. Maybe the eponymous Mr Howard couldn’t count? Or I suppose the central two closest to the head are almost merged? Dapper though it is, it is a major agricultural pest of cucurbits and corn.

So now you see how exquisite beetles can be, you can see why the Egyptians carved scarabs in their honor, like these fron the Met’s collection.

PS I have more lovely beetles, which I will save for another time.

5 thoughts on “What’s in a name: Calligraphy Beetles, Twice-stabbed Stinkbugs and more”

  1. You take such great photos & text is so interesting. Beetles are ‘cool.’ I have pictures of a white 6 spotted green beetle & a beetle that looks like it was dipped in mercury, which I haven’t been able to identify.

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  2. The twice stabbed nymph has what almost looks like a cat’s face on it. Do you suppose it evolved to have a scary look on its back to make predators think he is dangerous? Just beautiful little creatures all of them, pests or not I love them.

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  3. There’s a high chance that those red markings conferred an evolutionary advantage in deterring predators. Makes you wonder why the immature beige and black nymph is so much more visible!

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