Impact Of Beetles On Humans
The elm bark beetles, Hylurgopinus rufipes
Many agricultural, forestry, and household pests are represented by the order. These include:
- The Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, is a notorious pest of potato plants. Adults mate before overwintering deep in the soil, so that when they emerge the following spring, females can lay eggs immediately, once a suitable host plant has been found. As well as potatoes, a suitable host can be a number of other plants from the potato family (Solanaceae) such as nightshade, tomato, aubergine and capsicum. Crops are destroyed and the beetle can only be treated by employing expensive pesticides, many of which it has begun to develop immunity to.
- The elm bark beetles, Hylurgopinus rufipes, elm leaf beetle Pyrrhalta luteola and Scolytus multistriatus (in the family Scolytidae) attack elm trees. They are important elm pests because they carry Dutch elm disease (the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi) as they move from infected breeding sites to feed on healthy elm trees. The spread of the fungus by the beetle has led to the devastation of elm trees in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, notably North America and Europe.
- The death watch beetle Xestobium rufovillosum is of some considerable importance as a pest of wooden structures in older buildings in Britain. It attacks hardwoods such as oak and chestnut, and always where some fungal decay has taken or is taking place. It is thought that the actual introduction of the pest into buildings takes place at the time of construction.
- Asian long-horned Beetle
In China, it's called the starry sky beetle because of the white, celestial markings on its black body. But in the United States, this latest alien insect immigrant is commonly known as the Asian longhorn beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis.
"Whatever name you use," says Steven W. Lingafelter, "this pest and related species could have a devastating economic impact in the United States. It could cause millions of dollars in damage to ornamental trees and to the maple syrup and lumber industries." Lingafelter is a systematic entomologist.
"This woodboring pest is native to China, Japan, and Korea and has a natural range broad enough to guarantee it can live in most sections of this country," he says.
The Asian longhorn beetle was first discovered on maple, horsechestnut, and elm trees in Brooklyn, New York, in October 1996. Last July, workers there began cutting down, chipping, and burning trees to slow the pest's spread. Since then, the beetle has moved on to other communities in New York, and other specimens have been seen across the country. In Amityville and Greenpoint, New York, the beetle is attacking many types of maple and horsechestnut trees.
Recently, adults and larvae have been intercepted in forest product shipments in California, South Carolina, and Canada. Early identification and cargo fumigation have so far prevented establishment of this species in these other areas.
- Citrus long-horned beetle
- The larvae of lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) are often found in aphid colonies. While both adult and larval lady beetles found on crops prefer aphids, they will, if aphids are scarce, use food from other sources, such as small caterpillars, young plant bugs, aphid honeydew, and plant nectar.
- Large ground beetles (family Carabidae) are predators of caterpillars and, on occasion, adult weevils, whereas smaller species attack eggs, small caterpillars, and other pest insects.
Some farmers introduce beetle banks to foster and provide cover for beneficial beetles.
Several species of the dung beetles, most notably Scarabaeus sacer (often referred to as "scarab"), enjoyed a sacred status among the ancient Egyptians, as the creatures were likened to the god Khepri. Some scholars suggest that the people's practice of making mummies was inspired by the brooding process of the beetle.
Many thousands of amulets and stamp seals have been excavated that depict the scarab. In many artifacts, the scarab is depicted pushing the sun along its course in the sky. During and following the New Kingdom, scarab amulets were often placed over the heart of the mummified deceased. The amulets were often inscribed with a spell from the Book of the Dead which entreated the heart, "Do not stand as a witness against me."
Study and collection
The study of beetles is called coleopterology, and its practitioners are coleopterists.
Coleopterists have formed organizations to facilitate the study of beetles. Among these is The Coleopterists Society, an international organization based in the United States.
Research in this field is often published in peer-reviewed journals specific to the field of coleopterology, though journals dealing with general entomology also publish many papers on various aspects of beetle biology. Some of the journals specific to beetle research are:
- The Coleopterist (United Kingdom beetle fauna)
- The Coleopterists Bulletin (published by The Coleopterists Society)