Subject: Insect from Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica
January 3, 2014 7:08 pm
Dear Bugman,
I photographed this guy in Costa Rica, at about 1000 m elevation. Can you help me to identify it? Thank you!
Signature: Frank

Unknown Beetle

Deformed Soldier Beetle

Hi Frank,
Depending upon how specific you would like our answer to be, we may or may not have an answer for you.  This is a Beetle, a member of the insect order Coleoptera, the largest group of insects in the world.  Beyond that, we cannot be certain.  It appears that this beetle has deformed elytra, and we are not certain if that is a characteristic of this particular species, or if this is a deformed individual that did not develop correctly.  We are favoring the latter possibility, which might greatly complicate its identification if it does not resemble other members of its species due to the deformity.  It also appears to be a soft bodied beetle, without the hard elytra or wing covers that is a characteristic of most beetles.  We are guessing this individual is likely in the superfamily Elateroidea.  It resembles the Net-Winged Beetles in the family Lycidae and you can compare your specimen to this Golden Net-Wing pictured on BugGuide. as an example of how a “typical” family member looks.  The light tip on the abdomen might suggest bioluminescence and could mean your beetle is a Firefly in the family Lampyridae.  Your beetle also shares some characteristics of the Soldier Beetles in the family Cantharidae.  There is much more diversity in the tropics and there are also many poorly documented species as well as undocumented species in the tropics.  Our main source of information is the internet, and many organisms are poorly represented on the internet.  We tried a web search of “red beetle Costa Rica” and most of the images produced by google were not even beetles.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide a more specific answer for you.

Eric Eaton provides an identification
Yes, it is a soldier beetle, family Cantharidae.

Do you agree it is either deformed or hasn’t had the wings fully expand after metamorphosis?

Yes, probably a bad molt.

Location: Costa Rica

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