Bloody nosed beetle

I found a bloody nosed beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa) in the short grass where the rabbits graze at the end of Sleepers Field.

The line running down the middle of his back gives the impression of separate wing cases but, in fact, the wing  cases are fused together and he is flightless. He is a slow moving vegetarian, an ungainly plodder, feeding on bedstraws and other species of Galium.

Large and domed, he is very shiny with a blue- green, metallic lustre, particularly noticeable on his strangely shaped feet. His antennae look like beads strung on a wire.

He is named for the drop of red, foul tasting liquid he secretes from his mouth when he is attacked. I have read that this defence mechanism is triggered by the breath of a predator, perhaps by either the carbon dioxide it breathes out or just the breath’s warmth. I thought about breathing on him, to see what would happen, but the use of a defence mechanism is sometimes quite costly to an animal and it can take a long time to recover. I put him back in the grass, unbloodied, took his picture and reported him to Ian  who keeps our species lists.

Three species of Galium, food plants for the bloody nosed beetle

Header picture by SMH;  others (CC0) from Google Images.

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