Odontotaenius disjunctus / Coleoptera
May 27, 2007
This critter caused quite a stir when it crawled across the picnic blanket on Memorial Day! It's a good thing I was there to identify it as being harmless, I probably saved it from getting squashed! :) Patent-leather beetles get their common name from their shiny black exoskeleton, it resembles the patent leather on little girls' Sunday shoes. These beetles eat decaying wood (there was a dead tree nearby). This is one of the types of beetles that take care of their larvae, they feed them prechewed wood. Most insects die after laying their eggs, so this is quite an achievement.
Beetles are in the order Coleoptera, which means "sheath-wing". Beetles have 2 hard outer cover wings, called elytra which meet in the middle making a straight line on their back. The 2 softer flight wings are located beneath the elytra.