Monday, July 30, 2018

Mosaic Round Sand Beetle

Very little information is available on the beetle pictured here. The Mosaic Round Sand Beetle (Omophron tessellatum) is considered common throughout most of the United States and much of Canada as well. I've been photographing and collecting insects for over a decade now and this year was the first I've ever encountered this species.

I had placed a white sheet and mercury vapor light near our creek and an old farrowing house. One night while checking the sheet I noticed an insect on the ground moving rapidly in circles on the ground in some soft loamy dirt. It was such odd, erratic behavior for an insect it caught my attention immediately. I watched it for some time before it occurred to me to catch it and try to identify it. It proved somewhat difficult to catch as it ran quickly under the dirt and scurried away. After several tries I was able to capture it and ID'd it as the Mosaic Round Sand Beetle. There are numerous beetles within this genus, with most of them located in the Northern Hemisphere. Examples of beetles within this genus may be found in North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

These strong burrowers are typically found in sandy areas near creeks, lakes and other water sources, which would explain its presence at the white sheet near the creek. A few species within this genus may be attracted to lights at night and apparently this is one of them. I would assume these are the industrious hunters as they feed on insects both in the adult stage as well as the larval stage. With all manner of insects being attracted by the mercury vapor light it was an all-you-can-eat-buffet for these night time hunters.
Their strong mandibles remind me of the jaws found on tiger beetles and look like they could cause some serious damage to unsuspecting insect prey. They have large bulbous eyes which I assume gives them good eyesight for spotting prey, and with the speed at which they move, catching a moving target wouldn't be too difficult.

It is assumed they spend the winter in the adult stage hiding among leaf litter as well as other protected areas. In the spring mating occurs, but I could find no information on where young are reared or how long it takes for them to complete their lifecycle.

At only 5-7 mm in length, they prove that sometimes the most interesting things come in small packages.

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