Thursday, October 8, 2015

Discussion about Lazarus, my ironclad beetle

In case you've missed the discussion on Facebook via entomologist Mike Quinn's page regarding my ironclad beetle that came back to life this week, here it is (first names only): 

Mike Quinn:  Joanne, any comments given that you've reared an ironclad that lived for three yrs (!!!), if I recall...
Joanne: Well, an ironclad, for sure. In a rearing container, provide wood for shelter as well as shallow container with water. Misting is good. A couple of inches of soil from potted plants for ground. Provide lichens from oak trees, most easily provided following a good rainstorm (good luck with that!) Where was this bug collected? Oh. Blanco. Texas Hill Country. Of course. 
Alex: I had two for probably four years. This was 20+ years ago. I had them in a big aquarium in the living room with sand, a shot glass, rocks, and tree branches. I was young then.... 
Joanne: Additional: lichen from oak trees is only food documented, as well as from my observation. 
Jayden: So the ironclad beetle has the ability to change color with large amounts of moisture, turning blue black when exposed to lots of moisture. They also are also in the death feigning beetle family, making them very good at faking death. They either close their legs up or curl them up like a dead roach seen on Raid cans. Third, ironclad beetles are extremely hardy. They can be very hard to kill for an entomologist. Put into a killing jar, they can take up to two days to kill, from what I have heard. Water, I'm sure, would take just as long, if not longer. I'm not so surprised that something like this happened. I've had ironclad beetles pass out and think they were dead. Then they would revive a couple hours later. I'm sure they could also survive water for a while.
Ca: I've pulled many seemingly-dead insects from water and then seen them revive a while later. I just assume their oxygen-transfer system is different from animals so that they can go for longer without air and revive without any damage.
Lindsay: Just chiming in on the side here. Given the sad things people do to other people (and species) daily, I love that there are people who care so much about ironclad beetles!
Mathew: Many insects can survive long periods underwater. See "Differential Immersion Survival..."  and "Immersion Tolerance..." But ironclad beetle are just plain tough. I would not want to put them through what I put these insects through, but I have to wonder how much tougher they might be.
Michael I.: Actually, they are really easy to keep for long periods. I have had a couple that I tied a 6-8" thread around the groove between the pronotum and elytra, tied the other end to a tiny safety pin, and wore them as living broach on my shirt front. I put them on a cut apple or apple core each night, and they are happy. I have had Zopherus gracilus live two years this way, being worn most days during that time. People really freak out when she would walk out of my pocket.

1 comment:

TexasDeb said...

Absolutely fascinating creatures (and the bugs are pretty interesting, too!)...

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