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New weevil discoveries

Canadian Museum of Nature

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Entomologist Robert Anderson, Ph.D.

Beetles are the most diverse group of insects and are an important part of nature, living almost everywhere you can imagine.  The Canadian Museum of Nature has a great collection of beetles from Canada and around the globe! We asked entomologist, Robert Anderson, Ph. D., to tell us about a few interesting specimens.

Bob Anderson:

Weevils (beetles in the family, Curculionidae) are commonly found feeding on plants and are considered to be major threats to forestry, agriculture and horticulture throughout the world.

But what many people don’t realize is that weevils are also extremely important recyclers of dead plant material in many forests.

Living in the leaf litter on the forest floor, these weevils carry out their life cycles on the small twigs, leaves and fruit that fall from overhanging vegetation, breaking it down into finer pieces so that other organisms can continue the decomposition process. As forest floor leaf litter is a place that has not been well-explored by entomologists, nearly all of the species I find when I look there are new to science.

 

© Canadian Museum of Nature

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This new genus and new species of tiny weevil from Ivory Coast, Africa was collected in forest leaf litter.

© Canadian Museum of Nature

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Sometimes one can even find new species in the collections of other museums! This new species of the weevil genus Conotrachelus from Louisiana was found during recent visits to the collections at the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum and the Mississippi State Entomological Museum.

© Canadian Museum of Nature

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This new genus and species of leaf litter weevil is from the island of Sao Tome, off the coast of West Africa. This species was discovered in the collections at the California Academy of Sciences.

 

What beetles can you find in your backyard?

Look under the leaf litter and you may discover a whole hidden world. Some can be very tiny, so look carefully.