While taking our morning walk in the canyon near downtown Los Angeles, we encountered a strand of spider silk stretched across the path. It was probably from one of the Araneas or Neoscona species that build enormous webs at night. Dangling from the silk was a shrouded insect. When we broke the silk to pass, out of curiosity, we decided to unwrap the insect. What we found was amazing on several levels. First, the beetle was alive, meaning the spider was anticipating a future meal. The beetle has a hard shell, is just over an inch long and is shaped like on of the Click Beetles, Family Elateridae. It is covered with hairs that shine gold in the sunlight. But those feathery antennae seemed out of character. We quickly turned to our guide books and could locate nothing remotely similar. We decided to trouble Eric Eaton thinking he could quickly identify this anomoly. Here is his response: “Wow! Cool:-) I would agree that it is probably a click beetle, but have never seen anything like it. I’ll try and forward this image to Arthur Evans and see what he says. Thanks for sharing! Eric” So, for the moment, our beetle remains a mystery.
NOTE: Eric then wrote back with more information. L.A. Elaterid? “Here’s what my buddy Dr. Art Evans has to say about your beetle. CRAZY! Let it go if it is still alive. If it has died, then you can send it along, thank you:-) Eric”
And here is Dr. Art Evans conclusion: “The following excerpt is from our upcoming field guide for CA beetles: At least five species of Euthysanius are found in California. The males of Euthysanius lautus (15.0-19.0 mm) (Plate 111) are reddish-brown with grooved elytra and feathery, 12-segmented antennae. They are found under the bark of pines (Pinus) and are attracted to lights throughout southern California. Adult females (up to 35.0 mm) (Plate 112) have very short elytra and lack flight wings, exposing most of the abdominal segments. They are found crawling over the ground.”