Thursday, October 27, 2011

Golden Net-Winged Beetle (Dictyoptera aurora)

by Donna L. Watkins

As I was strolling the garden along the walkway to the front door, I saw a bright red bug that certainly stood out even though it was the size of a lightning bug. I had my camera so I took a photo being more concerned about it flying away than getting a good exposure on the photograph.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Golden Net-Winged Beetle
(Dictyoptera aurora)
Wondering if it was a good bug or bad bug, I submitted it to BugGuide.net for an ID after searching on their website for one like it. I was surprised to see how many beetles came in the color red, but none that exactly matched this one. I had stopped too soon. It was there. The specific name aurora refers to the Roman Goddess of the Dawn, no doubt for the color of the beetle. This species is widely distributed throughout much of North America and North Europe and Asia.

I'd like to know how it got the name "Golden" Net-Winged Beetle when it's obviously bright red, not golden. The red coloration is used to show predators that it is not at all tasty. Their forewings are often soft and covered in a net-like, reticulate texture, thus the common name. They are closely related to fireflies, but don't have the glowing bottoms, and are also related to Soldier Beetles and the Banded Net-Winged Beetle which I have found in our garden on Poke Weed.

These adult beetles sometimes feed on nectar and pollen from flowering plants. It was on our Heritage Chrysanthemums that were budding but not in bloom. The larvae inhabit the soil and leaf litter or decaying wood where they are thought to be predators and/or feed on fungus. As you know we've had masses of fungus this year with all the mushrooms I've photographed in our yard and backwoods.

So, the conclusion is that it's a good bug since it adds beauty to the garden and in no way harms it.

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