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Strange Bug Ignored by Ants


Best Answer LC3 , March 4 2018 - 9:00 PM

Like You mentioned this is the varied carpet beetle, Anthrenus verbasci or the closely related Anthrenus flavipes. There are some dermestid beetles that are known to reside in ant nests, feeding on the debris around the nest and ignored by the ants. Most likely the ants don't care about it and are just choosing to leave it alone. A. verbasci and A. flavipes larvae feed on debris such as keratin and dead insects, the adults tend to feed on pollen. So no they do not pose a threat to your ants.

 

Stigmacros worker ant with an Anthrenocerus dermestid beetle larva. Photo from Alex Wild.

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7 replies to this topic

#1 Offline AJAants - Posted March 4 2018 - 7:34 PM

AJAants

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This odd little bug was crawling around on my desk so I decided to try to feed it to my crematogaster sp. colony. It was a challenge to catch and I thought that I had killed it in the process, but apparently not. Once I put it into my ants' out-world it started moving again and the ants initially tried to attack it. After a minute or two though, they seemed unable to get a hold on it and gradually started to ignore, just smelling it from time to time. Now it is walking around their garbage pile and any time an ant gets close to it, it tucks in its head and legs close to its body and goes still. The ants seem aware of its presence but are uninterested in it. Is it possible that it feeds on their trash? Or might it be a danger to the colony? Any feedback would be appreciated. It is about 3mm long and has wings. It looks very similar to a ladybug though it is smaller and has a different coloration.

Snap 008
Snap 018
Snap 019

Edited by AJAants, March 4 2018 - 7:40 PM.

Current Colonies:

1 Crematogaster sp.

 

Current Queens:

Solenopsis sp.

 

Past Colonies:

Veromessor Pergandei


#2 Offline AnthonyP163 - Posted March 4 2018 - 7:48 PM

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I've heard of beetles and larvae that gain ants' scent to go into their colony and eat brood, but it's possible it just eats the trash.



#3 Offline AJAants - Posted March 4 2018 - 7:52 PM

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I live in southern California, do you know of any around here?


Current Colonies:

1 Crematogaster sp.

 

Current Queens:

Solenopsis sp.

 

Past Colonies:

Veromessor Pergandei


#4 Offline AJAants - Posted March 4 2018 - 8:04 PM

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I did some research and it looks like its a varied carpet beetle, which overall seems harmless to the colony. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Still, I have no idea why the ants ignore it.


Edited by AJAants, March 4 2018 - 8:32 PM.

Current Colonies:

1 Crematogaster sp.

 

Current Queens:

Solenopsis sp.

 

Past Colonies:

Veromessor Pergandei


#5 Offline AnthonyP163 - Posted March 4 2018 - 8:42 PM

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I did some research and it looks like its a varied carpet beetle, which overall seems harmless to the colony. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Still, I have no idea why the ants ignore it.

It's possible they just realized it was hard to kill and gave up. My colonies often do this with isopods.



#6 Offline LC3 - Posted March 4 2018 - 9:00 PM   Best Answer

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Like You mentioned this is the varied carpet beetle, Anthrenus verbasci or the closely related Anthrenus flavipes. There are some dermestid beetles that are known to reside in ant nests, feeding on the debris around the nest and ignored by the ants. Most likely the ants don't care about it and are just choosing to leave it alone. A. verbasci and A. flavipes larvae feed on debris such as keratin and dead insects, the adults tend to feed on pollen. So no they do not pose a threat to your ants.

 

Stigmacros worker ant with an Anthrenocerus dermestid beetle larva. Photo from Alex Wild.


Edited by LC3, March 4 2018 - 9:01 PM.

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Colonies

Spoiler

 

 


#7 Offline AJAants - Posted March 7 2018 - 7:32 PM

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Sorry for this delayed response, after ignoring the beetle for awhile the ants started periodically trying to attack it, repeatedly being unable to pierce its exoskeleton. Finally, this afternoon I noticed a worker carrying a detached piece of insect which clearly came from the beetle. Thanks for your responses!


Current Colonies:

1 Crematogaster sp.

 

Current Queens:

Solenopsis sp.

 

Past Colonies:

Veromessor Pergandei


#8 Offline dermy - Posted March 8 2018 - 1:14 AM

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Darn I missed a Dermestidae beetle thread, been so busy.

 

 

These are [my best guess anyway, hard to ID just the beetles since Anthrenus flavipes and Anthrenus verbasci look similar as adults] if I had to guess [based on the fact that it's starting to be spring] I'd lean more towards Anthrenus verbasci

, since they show very interesting annual rhythm. I would keep an eye on flowers brought into the home, and just generally keep an eye out, one or two beetles is nothing to freak about but lots at windows or something might be a concern [I'm really jealous since I've never gotten the chance to get any of these, I'm stuck with boring old Attagenus unicolor [black carpet beetles] which aren't as cool as these, not just for their colour but their behavior.]

 

If you do find larvae then you might want to be a little worried, the larval shed skins can cause allergic reactions in some people [me included I get really bad respiratory problems from prolonged exposure to their frass and shedded exoskeletons] they can feed on a lot of things, anything from clothing [esp if it's soiled with something, but even clean stuff can be attacked if it's not properly stored] as well as pet food, dander, pet hair and lots of other different food items.

 

The larvae have a really cool tuff at the end of them that shakes violently [I had someone show me their "colony" but seems that person has removed their videos, shame because it was a nice sized colony] and they would freak out and have their tuffs wiggle violently around. It's apparently used to ward off certain parasitic wasps that try to lay eggs on the larvae.

 

They don't develop very fast [none of the carpet beetles seem to] and also require dormant period in the last larval stage that is really hard to replicate [again going back to the weird annual rythms they seem to have] and colonies [if you can call them that, I do but more often are called cultures] take awhile to grow up to a size that's interesting. The beetles don't live very long, for the most part they mate lay eggs and the females will sometimes try and fly outside to feed on pollen. How many eggs they lay is dependent on weather they have access to water or not, it's been noted in various works [like scientific papers, etc.] that females given access to a watering source will lay a lot more eggs than those that aren't.  

 

You don't need to worry about the adults causing any damage to clothing, carpeting etc. but the larvae can cause [at least if their numbers are high enough] some damage to woolen goods and some clothing. They take forever to grow up though [sometimes if conditions are unfavorable it can take up to 3 years!]

 

I'll likely add more stuff to this since it's pretty interesting but the short version is that that is a Carpet beetle probably Anthrenus verbasci

 

 

Here's the keys to the two species I'm assuming the beetle is, both are Cosmopolitan [worldwide]

Anthrenus verbasci

http://www.dermestid...usverbasci.html

Anthrenus flavipes

http://www.dermestid...usflavipes.html

 

If you can get a look of the underside you should be able to get the right one.

 

It's insane how many are in the Anthrenus genus alone.....

 

http://www.dermestid...bbildungen.html

^ that shows you just how many Dermestidae there is....... and to think I'll probably only ever get to keep 2 or 3 species...... [Dermestes lardarius and Attagenus unicolor for now]


Edited by dermy, March 8 2018 - 1:26 AM.

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