New Bombardier beetle expedition
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Trechine Ground Beetles 2 expedition. With its completion, we have also finished off our remaining specimens from this ground beetle subfamily, and brought our total number of ground beetle specimens digitized to 4391. That’s a little less than 25% of the total number of specimens we had when we started this project back in July, 2016.
For our next expedition we’ll be focusing on the Bombardier beetles (subfamily Brachininae). The University of Alberta’s E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum has a large number of Bombardier beetle specimens, with 860 already digitized and publicly available from GBIF, and another ~4300 with images remaining to be transcribed as part of this effort. Most of these belong to just one genus, Brachinus, though there are about a dozen genera known in the subfamily. Bombardier beetles are found in temperate and subtropical regions around the world. They get their name from their ability to spray boiling hot chemicals from their abdomen, a characteristic whose mechanical/biological basis eluded explanation until a couple of years ago (a must see article and video here).
You’ll notice that our expedition image has changed from what use to be a photo of a specimen drawer to something a little more lively. We now feature an in situ photograph of a Brachinus specimen courtesy of PhD student and carabidologist, Wesley Hunting. Thanks Wes!
Make sure to check out our Bombardier beetle expedition!
–Bryan Brunet, PhD
Collections Management Advisor (Natural Sciences), University of Alberta Museums, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada