Not Your Usual Pollinator
Since this is National Pollinator Week, you're probably out celebrating the bees--maybe doing hand stands, cartwheels and pirouettes.
But have you ever thought about beetles as pollinators? They are.
We spotted this little critter on a California golden poppy at the Sonoma Mission in Sonoma, Calif. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, knew what it was immediately, even though through all the pollen.
It's a melyrid beetle, a flightless beetle. Some species found elsewhere in the world are loaded with poison and are eaten by poison-dart frogs and passerine birds, including the pitohui. Scientists writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) say these frogs and birds derive their poison from melyrid beetles and if they don't eat enough of them, they lose their toxicity. Indeed, there's a golden poison-dart frog that carries enough venom to kill 10 people, according to National Geographic.
If you want to know what this melyrid beetle looks like when it's not wearing its coat of many pollen grains, check out this photo by Peter Bryant of UC Irvine and another photo by Thomas Roach of Lincoln, Calif., an insect photographer and a frequent visitor to the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus.
Melyrid beetle (Endeodes insularis) on a poppy petal. (Photo y Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of melyrid beetle covered with pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)