|E. elegans elegans from Borrego Springs (Photo R. Waayers)|
Monday, April 18, 2011
A vey localized population explosion of Eupompha elegans
Around Tucson, we didn't get many Blister Beetles (Meloidae) this spring. They feed on flowers like lupines and desert chicory, but these annuals simply didn't bloom this year. Even the perennial Brittle Bush, Encelia farinosa took the year off in most places. But the bushes on our patio, protected from the worst of the February freeze and slightly irrigated year round, were covered in flowers and all insects put on a great show.
Eupompha elegans usually appears in March and nibbles on the flowers of all available Asteracrae. It's a pretty beetle and I'm always happy to see a few.
This year we experienced one of the very localized population explosions that are so typical for Meloids. There wasn't a single Encelia disc that wasn't occupied by one or two of the beetles in our backyard. While I took picture they landed on my arms, in my hair, in my face - not too pleasant considering they are blister beetles. But I didn't squish any and they didn't give me any blisters. They just munched yellow Encelia leafs, mated and left orange spots behind wherever they landed. At the beginning of April the beetles vanished when the last Encelia flowers wilted.
I didn't find any Eupompha elegans outside our little Brittle Bush patch, not even in Sabino Canyon. My friend Robyn Waayers posted one from California, and hers is of a different subspecies that does not show the red banding that is so typical for our subspecies Eupompha elegans perpulchra (the elegant and especially beautiful Eupomphas)