Banded Net-Winged Beetle

Interactions: Don't eat me, I taste bad!

  The diet of Calopteron reticulatum larvae is not completely known. Some researchers record the larvae as being predacious, feeding on insects, millipedes, slugs and sowbugs (Bennett 2012, White 1983), allowing us to see them as a beneficial insect, however other researchers such as McCabe and Johnson noted the larvae feeding on fungus, fermenting plant juices and myxomycetes (Hall and Branham 2008, McCabe and Johnson 1979). The many different ideas of C. reticulatum’s diet has caused the Department of Entomology at Ohio State University to research any predacious nature of the larvae. The study revealed that if two larvae were put in the same container, then they would begin attacking each other. This attacking could however be related to their aggregate prior to pupation because the larvae is preparing to change. The study went on to observe the relationship between Anguispira alternata (endodontid snail) and C. reticulatum, concluding with the larvae consuming the snail, but it was unknown whether or not the snail was alive or dead (Miller 1988). From this study, scientists can say the larvae are carnivorous, but in order to classify them as predacious more studies are needed.           

While the larvae are considered carnivorous, adult C. reticulatum primarily feed on rotting vegetation and fermenting plant juices. In order to test this beetle’s diet McCabe and Johnson formed a study with adult Calopteron terminale, a close neighboring species to C. reticulatum. The C. terminale beetles used were found on boxelder trees. The study consisted of withholding
Banded Net-Winged Beetle food and water from the beetles for three days. After three days water was provided as well as insect and larvae that they would have eaten in the larval stage. McCabe and Johnson (1979) observed the beetles flying away the insects even after being deprived from food, but when Honey Dew was made available, the beetles fed freely on the fruit. Knowing that a close relative to C. reticulatum readily chooses fruit over other insects allows scientists to make accurate assumptions about C. reticulatum. Assumptions that can be observed in nature by setting fruit out to see what bugs come or watching bugs interact with each other.           

Even though the Banded Net-Winged Beetle avoids interaction with other organisms, it has a large effect on others due to the bright colorations. Since predators relate the offensive taste of C. reticulatum to the bright orange bands on its back, many other organisms have adapted a version of this coloration. This type of mimicry is known as mullarian mimicry where defenseless organisms display the same pattern or coloration that an organism with defenses has.  The mimicry is beneficial for other organisms because they have no chemical defenses; however, the bright orange coloration fools predators into thinking that the organism will have a foul taste. The orange and black bands can be seen in
lightening bug, reticulated beetles, Soldier beetles, some leaf beetles, glowworms and many others (White 1983). It is because of these similarities in variability and appearance of the bands, that the C. reticulatum is often misidentified (Hall and Branham 2008).