What insect is this?
Location: Toowoomba Queensland Australia
January 20, 2011 3:47 am
Hi I was outside about to hang the clothes when I saw this strange peculiar insect on the line? I never seen such a funny looking insect with these big antennas. I thought it was such a wonderful looking thing that I had to grab the camera to get this on film. Lucky it was still there when I returned I was so delighted to see such an insect I have been so curious to find out what it was? Could you possibly know what it is? This was outside in Toowoomba Queensland Australia. Thank you.
Signature: Dazed and Amazed
Dear Dazed and Amazed,
Those are some impressive antennae on this aptly named Feather Horned Beetle, Rhipicera femoralis, in the family Rhipiceridae. This is a new species, new family and new category for our website. We identified your Feather Horned Beetle on the Life Unseen website which has some nice photos, but no information. According to the Ausscape International Photo Library website, the Feather Horned Beetle is also called the Fan Horned Beetle. One of the nicest images of the Feather Horned Beetle is on the Patti Flynn Soapmaker blog. Csiro Entomology has the most information available to the general web browsing public, including: “This small family has not been well studied in Australia and as a result little is known of their biology and ecology. There are only 6 species of Rhipiceridae in Australia and all belong to the genus Rhipicera. Adults range in size from 10 to 25 millimetres in length and can be recognised by their large fan-like antennae. The antennae of males are unusual in that they have more than 20 segments and arise from small knob-like prominences. Most species are grey-black in colour with white spots on the elytra and pronotum, formed by patches of hair. The larvae of Australian species is unknown and in North America Sandalus niger is the only known rhipicerid larva. This larval species is grub-like and lightly sclerotised, with conical shaped antennae consisting of just one segment. The first instar are triungulin-like, meaning they appear similar to the larvae of blister beetles (Meloidae) which are long-legged and parasitic. The later instars are ectoparasitic on the nymphs of cicadas. It is thought the first instars of Sandalus niger attach themselves to the cicada nymphs before they enter the soil.” If the closest relatives found in North America (see BugGuide) are known as Cicada Parasite Beetles, it might be deduced that the same might be true of the Australian members of the family since Australia has such a robust population of Cicadas.