Vote now for a bombardier beetle genome

Vote daily from now until 5 April here

Bombardier beetles are among the world’s most impressive chemists. They repel predators with rapid-fire, precisely-aimed explosive discharges of a toxic chemical mix at over 100°C, earning them lead roles in media and culture. Yet the genomic basis of this extraordinary ability remains a mystery. We need YOUR help to sequence the Explosive Bombardier Beetle genome.

Our team’s bombardier beetle proposal has been selected as one of five finalists to undergo a popular vote for the world’s most interesting genome! The final winner receives Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) SMRT Sequencing and genome assembly.

Vote YES for the Explosive Bombardier Beetle! Vote here today:

You can vote once per day through April 5th. Help SDSU/UC Berkeley/University of Arizona/Stevens Institute of Technology win this exciting competition! Please announce to your students, friends, etc. Our team will be sending periodic reminders throughout the voting period.

Social Media:

Follow the Explosive Bombardier Beetle team on Twitter:
Dr. Tanya Renner (San Diego State University): @TanzRenner
Dr. Wendy Moore (University of Arizona): @paussus
Dr. Kipling Will (University of California, Berkeley): @Cerabilia
Dr. Aman Gill (University of California, Berkeley): @amanomenon
Dr. Athula Attygalle (Stevens Institute of Technology)

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New Pterostichus for Hilary

Modified by CombineZP

Pterostichus (Leptoferonia) hackerae

In 2015 David Maddison blogged about a trip we took to meet Hilary Hacker in Northern California (A Love of Leptoferonia). It was so amazing to meet her after being an admirer of her field work and her publication on Leptoferonia.

I am very pleased to announce that my small contribution describing a new species of Leptoferonia from Oregon that honors Hilary Hacker has been published. The tiny-eyed, soil-dwelling beetle is named  Pterostichus (Leptoferonia) hackerae and together with a key for the species of the subgenus and a phylogeny, the description is published in the Pan-Pacific Entomologist in a paper titled “Description of a new microphthalmous species of Pterostichus Bonelli, 1810 (Coleoptera: Carabidae) from southwestern Oregon and key to species of the subgenus Leptoferonia Casey, 1918.” It’s available here or if that is pay-walled ask me for a PDF. Even better, join the Pacific Coast Entomological Society and get the journal.

Also in the paper I follow up on the question of P. (Leptoferonia) enyo‘s sister-group relationships. Spoiler alert- I proved my original hypothesis wrong. So goes science.


Meeting Hilary Hacker in 2015. Image by D.R. Maddison.

Posted in Carabids, Coleoptera, Entomology, Pterostichines | Leave a comment

Support the Essig Museum, Cal’s Big Give

For more about the Essig Museum click here or to donate now click the image below. Thanks for your support!



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Enigmatic La Brea Tar Pit Insect Fossils

Anna Holden who recently wrote a guest post here  on insects from the La Brea Tar Pits as paleoenvironmental indicators has a lot more stunning insect fossils that have turned up during her studies. She is looking for help to identify more of the specimens. You can check out images of some of the material and if you have expertise in a group offer some suggestions as to the identification. Visit the Flickr account that she has created of ~44,000k year old insects from a unique assemblage. Comment there or for non-Flickr members you can email Anna comments aholden[at]

Some examples of the fossils on the Flickr site.

Some examples of the fossils on the Flickr site.

These insect fossil fragments are in near pristine preservation due to a rapid entrapment event that compacted this material into a camel (Camelops hesternus) skull.

Clyde the camel's skull from La Brea (Camelops hesternus)

Clyde the camel’s skull from La Brea (Camelops hesternus)


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Talk slides from I.C.E. 2016

I’ll be speaking tomorrow in a chemical ecology session about the carabid-Q project, in part.


Here is a reduced size pdf of the slides for preview or review. Enjoy.




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Poster previews for the 4th International Symposium of Carabidology in Athens, Georgia

I have the pleasure of participating in a couple projects that have poster presentations at this week’s 4th International Symposium of Carabidology in Athens, Georgia. One is on the Phylogeny of Adephaga (draft preview poster here: 6genes2treeposter-draft-locked)



The other is from the Carabid-Q team,  detailing our new project on carabid defensive chemicals (draft preview poster here: carabid-q_poster_carabidology2016_locked-public )  The project is looking for students!


Enjoy! I hope to see you at this meeting or at ICE in Orlando.



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One less Pterostichus for Montana

My recent trip to Bozeman, MT wasn’t entirely fun and games. Well, it was entirely fun (Thanks, Mike!), but not all games. One objective was to collection samples of the various forms of Pterostichus (Hypherpes) protractus, the species of Hypherpes with the largest known range in the subgenus. This species has a distribution that stretches from just a bit north of Jasper, Alberta, Canada south to the Zuni and Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico, and west to northeastern Sierra Nevada Mountains and southeastern British Columbia.


Hanging out at the Continental Divide with Mike Ivie (MSU). We old guys aren’t good at this selfie thing.

With such a big range and a good deal of morphological variation, is anyone surprised that there are seven synonyms and six of those are T.L. Casey names? The area around Yellowstone was the last locality I needed (two Casey names from there) in my due diligence to sample areas in or near the type localities for all named species and get DNA quality specimens and males from across the entire range.

Part of my effort involved working in the MSU collection to look for localities. There were plenty of P. protractus records and so it was very easy to pick sites for sampling.


In addition to P. protractus, I expected to see Pterostichus restrictus, based a record of nine specimen records published by Hatch (1933) (in Hatch’s paper as Pterostichus longulus (see Bousquet 2012)). This is a species that I found to be very common in New Mexico and Colorado. But I couldn’t find any specimens in the collection.  Mike helped me search through the old card records and voilà, there were nine records all from around Bozeman.



Specimen identification tracking cards from the MSU collection.

But… they were all really P. protractus. Sorry Montana, no P. restrictus for you. I doubt that P. restrictus ranges north of southern Wyoming. Hatch didn’t identify any specimens as P. protractus, so I suspect he was either unaware of the species or had a different concept in mind.

IMG_0486 cropped

Two of the series of nine P. protractus that were initially identified as P. restrictus.




-Bousquet Y (2012) Catalogue of Geadephaga (Coleoptera, Adephaga) of America, north of Mexico. ZooKeys 1722, 1–1722.

-Hatch MH (1933) Records of Coleoptera from Montana. The Canadian Entomologist 65: 5-15.

Posted in Carabids, Coleoptera, Entomology, Pterostichines | Leave a comment