What Puts the Blister Into Blister Beetles?

Epicauta chinensis blister beetle

By John P. Roche Blister beetles produce cantharidin, a 10-carbon isoprenoid molecule that is highly bitter and is toxic to most animals. Because cantharidin is so bitter, it discourages predators, and its production may have been selected for in blister beetles because of this bitterness. The molecule is found in only two insect groups: blister […]

Control of West Indian Sweetpotato Weevils Informed by Their Mating Behavior

By John P. Roche West Indian sweetpotato weevils (Euscepes postfasciatus) are costly pests of sweetpotato plants (Ipomoea batatas) in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Entomologists in the Ryukyu Islands within the Okinawa Prefecture of Japan are implementing a sterile insect technique (SIT) program for eradicating West Indian sweetpotato weevils. SIT uses […]

Morphological Traits Relate to Mating Strategies in Male Japanese Stag Beetles

Prosopocoilus inclinatus

By John P. Roche Male Japanese stag beetles (Prosopocoilus inclinatus) have battles to defend territories to earn the opportunity to mate with females. They use enlarged mandibles that look like the horns of male deer to battle for these matings—hence the name stag beetles. Stag beetles that win male-male contests usually succeed in mating, and […]

New Fossil Evidence Shows Beetles Pollinated Orchids Millions of Years Ago

By John P. Roche For flowering plants to reproduce sexually, they need to disperse pollen so that the male gametes in the pollen can reach and fertilize the egg in the plant embryo sac. Plants have evolved a variety of mechanisms to disperse pollen. Among them, orchids have evolved a mechanism using pollination structures called […]

Where Do Shield-back Katydids Fit within the Katydid Evolutionary Tree?

By John P. Roche With more than 7,000 species globally, the katydids are the second most diverse group within the insect order Orthoptera, after the grasshoppers. Katydids are members of the taxonomic family Tettigoniidae, and though familiar to people throughout the world for their musical mating call, the specifics of many aspects of the evolutionary […]