Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tumbling Flower Beetles

Now is a time of many blooming flowers and that means there are many insects ready to visit those flowers. In this case the flower is a Pasture Rose and the visitors are a species of Tumbling Flower Beetles. It sounds like a circus act and also appears so when the beetles get startled and tumble from the flower.

The main attraction is food. This blossom is showing quite a bit of wear, but I don’t think that is the fault of the beetles. The hole that appears in each petal looks like it might have been created when the flower was still in the bud. At that time, as the undeveloped petals lay atop each other, a single wound could have damaged all petals.

The beetles are primarily interested in consuming nectar and pollen. There is also considerable courtship activity going on. The flower seems to be acting as the equivalent of the local singles bar.

I’m reminded of the movies where the honeymoon couple finds their bed strewn with rose petals. How romantic.

It seems a good strategy to meet and mate where the food is found. It would make even more sense if the species was attracted to only one species of flower or if there was some type of pheromone released as they fed that attracted more beetles to the flower. I don’t know if anything of that sort occurs with these beetles, but it would sure make it easier for the couples to meet. In this case, there wasn’t another blooming plant within 100 feet of this rose, so it seems natural for all of the beetles to end up here. If this had been a field of roses, I wonder if any of the beetles would have gotten together.

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