Behaviour of the Australian 'fire-beetle' Merimna atrata (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) on burnt areas after bushfires

WA Museum Records and Supplements | Updated 4 years ago

ABSTRACT – The Australian 'fire-beetle' Merimna atrata can be found in large numbers directly after a fire in eucalyptus forests in the smoky burnt area. The main reasons for this so-called pyrophilous behaviour are reproduction and foraging. Beetles of both sexes are most probably attracted by the smell of burning eucalyptus trees and invade a freshly burnt area as early as possible. Nearly the entire cycle of reproduction, including mate finding, copulation and oviposition takes place, and the beetles are most likely protected from predators by heat and smoke. This is possible because M. atrata has developed special infrared receptors on the abdomen which serve for the detection of hot spots. As the burnt area gets cooler and the smell of burning declines, beetles disappear within about 3 days. Observations on burnt areas over a period of 12 years also have revealed that M. atrata is a diurnal sunloving beetle which prefers high body temperatures above 40°C.

Author(s) Anke Schmitz, Erik S. Schneider and Helmut Schmitz
Records 30 : Part 1
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