New Species of “Gargoyle Beetle” Named for LSU Professor Dorothy Prowell
Entomologists from Louisiana State University have described two new species of staphylinid beetles in the genus Batrisodes, bringing the total diversity of the genus in North America to 88 species. The first, Batrisodes dorothae, was found in the Feliciana Preserve in Lousiana. The second, Batrisodes spretoides, was found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Both are described in an article by Dr. Michael L. Ferro and Dr. Christopher E. Carlton in the journal Insecta Mundi.
“Batrisodes dorothae is a rove beetle in the subfamily Pselaphinae, the short-winged mould beetles,” said Dr. Ferro. “I call the genus ‘gargoyle beetles’ because the males of each species have very distinct faces, often with horns, spines, shelves, cavities, etc.”
It was named after Dorothy (Pashley) Prowell, a professor emeritus of entomology at Louisiana State University, who is a lifelong conservation advocate and one of the founders of the Feliciana Preserve where it was found.
“Little is known about the habits of most Batrisodes species, and B. dorothae is no different,” Dr. Ferro said. “It probably lives in leaf litter and is a predator of mites and collembola.”
The other beetle, Batrisodes spretoides, was first collected and recognized as a distinct species by Dr. Orlando Park in 1960, but he died before he could describe it. His specimens waited quietly for half a century until now.
“Batrisodes spretoides was first collected from under rocks in Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and has since been collected in several other locations around the park,” Dr. Ferro said. “It too is probably a predator of mites and collembola, but may interact with ants as well.”
The name is an allusion to the species B. spretus, which this new species closely resembles.
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