17 October 2010

Weevil


This weevil turned up on the outside of a window last week. I caught it, photographed it a few days later, then liberated it. Thank you, little weevil; please forgive the inconvenience.

It was roughly a quarter the size of my little fingernail and those spines on the rear of the elytra (wing cases) should make it easy to identify at least to genus level. However, I no longer have easy access to the necessary reference material, so for the time being this will have to remain anonymous. However, the rostrum (snout) and the "elbows" in the antennae leave no doubt it's a weevil, so in Aotearoa that narrows the possible identification down to one of about 1500 currently named species.

I'll update this later with the i.d.

Update: Andrew (AJB) contacted weevil expert Chris Lyall at the British Museum of Natural History; Chris confirmed the identification as a male Psepholax coronatus, one of the so-called pit weevils.

[10 October 2010, Canon 20D, 100 mm f2.8, EF1.4x II teleconverter + 13 mm extension tube, ISO 400, 1s at f16]


All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

12 comments:

Relatively Retiring said...

What a charming little house-guest!
Thank you for enabling me to see his/her appeal, which is so easily overlooked.

leonie.wise said...

WOW Pete!

WOW.
I don't think I've ever seen a weevil up close. And if I had, I'm not sure I would have known it was a weevil.

It's kinda cute being so tiny and all, but I sure wouldn't love it very much if it was the size of a cat.

pohanginapete said...

Thank you, RR. I love the reaction when people — adults as well as children — see insects close-up for the first time (or even the umpteenth time: the novelty never seems to wear thin). Most people are surprised, astonished and impressed, yet these tiny things live all around us.

Leonie — that's just the kind of reaction I mentioned to RR :^) You can relax, too: all weevils are herbivorous, as far as we know (we probably only know a small fraction of the total number of weevils).
   If it was the size of a cat, I doubt it would be as comfortable to stroke, particularly with those spines on the back ;^)

Paul said...

Whenever I look at an insect at the macro level, I ‘see’ them thinking -- having thoughts -- having a conscious, purposeful life.

Great photo.

pohanginapete said...

Thanks Paul. It's one of those things that will always be intensely frustrating — not knowing what it's like to be a weevil, or any other animal. Or, I suppose, another human being, although at least we can guess more accurately. Even if reincarnation happens, when I'm reincarnated as a weevil, will I realise I'm actually Pete, reincarnated? I doubt it.
   Now I'm confused ;^)

AJB said...

I was wondering if it's Psepholax coronatus but I've never seen a live one and my reference books aren't being overly helpful...

pohanginapete said...

Andrew, thanks for the reminder! I'll do some checking today.

AJB said...

Pete, I talked to Dr Chris Lyal from the Department of Entomology,
The Natural History Museum in London who wrote the book on NZ weevils and he says it's:

"... a male Psepholax coronatus White, which bores into the
living wood of a number of native trees and shrubs."

pohanginapete said...

Andrew, that's great! Thanks. My expert hasn't got back to me, but now he doesn't need to ... ;^) How on earth does Chris know it's a male? No, wait — don't answer that ;^)

AJB said...

Hudson in 1920 says...


"The male of Psepholax coronatus, a short stumpy-looking weevil, has a conspicuous coronet of spines on the back of each of its elytra. This structure is entirely absent in the female and in all the other members of that extensive genus of weevils."

pohanginapete said...

Ah, so it's that simple. That's probably why I didn't recognise it from the photo in Forest and Timber Insects — that one's either a female or a markedly different species. The photo's pretty small, though.

AJB said...

I must confess that one of the references I have at home (one of several generic 'NZ Insects' type books I have copies of) talked about spikes on the elytra and that prompted my earlier guess.