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Click Beetles and Lady Beetles

By: Denim Zong and Kelsey Carriere
(participants in the Verna J. Kirkness Program at the University of Manitoba)
From June 1st to 5th Denim and Kelsey worked with various mentors from the entomology lab in the Department of Animal Science, including Dr. Barb Sharanowski, Melanie Scallion, Amber Bass, Leah Irwin, Udari Wanigasekara, Andres Herrera, Miles Zhang, Kale McKay, Leanne Peixoto, and Ana Dal Molin.

In the lab we learned about the classification system of insects, how to curate insects, which means preparing them to be put on display, and even how to properly collect insects like real entomologists. We got to visit the Wallis Roughly Museum which houses an impressive collection of dead insects where we chose our favorites to do further reseach on which is availiable below. Over the week on more than one occasion we were able to visit the "bug room" aptly named because it is a room in which bugs are kept including a variety of cockroaches, a tarantula, some beetles, and a scorpion.

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Click Beetles

Elateridae is the name of the family of insects commonly referred to as Click Beetles. The common name click beetle comes from the mechanism used by the family of beetles called "Clicking". When clicking the beetles act as a door hinge in the sense that they use the two large sections of their bodies and snap together to produce a forceful "click" which is strong enough to bounce the insect and make a small clicking sound. The mechanism is used as a defense against predators or to flip the beetle right side up.

Click beetles have what is called a complete life cycle meaning that they change forms as they mature. A click beetle begins life from an egg and at this stage in their beetle lives they are called Larva. At this stage the larvae prey on small soil animals or eat roots and seeds. A click beetle larva is described as being long and shiny featuring sturdy segmented bodies. Also referred to as "Wireworms" they differ from mealworms with their mouthparts pointing straight forward rather than sideways. After a year or more the larvae enter what is called the pupa stage, after a week or so they emerge mature adults. Adults have a varied diet consisting of nectar, pollen, flowers, and even soft bodied insects such as aphids.

Click beetles can be found in most temperate, tropical, or terrestrial climates. For example the Campsosternus gemma, or the Rainbow Sheath Click Beetle, is found commonly in Taiwan. This specific beetle can grow to be 3.3 to 3.6 cm in length and is easily identified by the metallic green coloring, hence the name "gemma" which is Latin for jewel.

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Lady Beetles

The Coccinellidae, better known as ladybug or ladybird, are round or oval insects that live in non-marine areas, gardens, or other areas suited to their needs. These creatures are typically red with 7 black dots on their backs, but they can also be pink, orange, yellow, white and black.

The life cycle of a ladybird is quite interesting and simple. Females lay 3-10 light yellow or orange eggs in 10-50 clusters during the spring season. Once the eggs hatch, they are considered larvae for 2-3 weeks. After that stage in their lives, they become a pupa for 3-5 days and mature into the ladybirds we know. Ladybirds can have up to 6 generations in one season. The final generation hibernates through the winter and lays its eggs again in the spring time. A female can lay up to 5000 eggs in her lifetime.

Crops and gardens are always filled with unwanted pests, but ladybirds generally eat aphids and soft scale insects, mealybugs, and spider mites. Adults can consume over 5000 aphids each in their lifetime.

Were you ever told that the dots on a ladybird signified its age? If so, you have been given false information! The dots don't have a meaning; they're just part of the characteristics of a ladybird.