Fungus Eaters-Erotylidae

The family name of this group is derived from Latin words meaning "pleasing fungus eaters." These compact, oval, often multicolored beetles are indeed fungus eaters, and are usually found beneath the bark of dead trees. They occur in most parts of the world, but are most common in the tropics. The tropical species are usually handsome beeties, beautifully colored with patterns of red, yellow, and black. In contrast, erotylids found in the rest of the world tend to be small and without a particularly attractive coloration.

Entomologists question whether the brilliant red, yellow, and black markings of the erotylid serve as a warning or as protective coloration. When attacked, these beetles secrete a foul-smelling fluid, but it is not known whether this fluid is poisonous to other insects. If it is indeed poisonous, then the markings of the erotylid serve as a true warning coloration-predators tend to avoid red and yellow coloration. If the fluid secreted by the Erotylidae is not poisonous, the markings are merely protective-a ruse perpetrated on dangerous predators.

There are over 2,000 species of pleasing fungus beetles. Collectors ardently seek the large tropical specimens, especially the striking South American species.


INDEX : Insects   January 11, 2016 02:26:06 PM