Why carrion beetles shlep a heaving carpet of mites around on their backs

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16 Responses to “Why carrion beetles shlep a heaving carpet of mites around on their backs”

  1. mkultra says:

    I honestly never thought I would say this…

    Unicorn chaser, please. Quickly. -shudder-

  2. Dustin Driver says:

    So the beetle is basically a heavily armored troop carrier, a vast star destroyer loaded with tie fighters, a Lovecraftian juggernaut crawling with flesh-eating minions. Wicked.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Completely gross, but interesting…

  4. zikman says:

    yo, that is so awesome. the beetle puts itself under such pressure just to ensure the success of its offspring. who knew

  5. 13strong says:

    This is quite a good metaphor for the current political situation in the UK. With the current coalition government, the Conservatives are the carrion beetle, and the Lib Dems are the mites. When the “beetle” is confronted with an election, the “Lib Dems” get rid of the Labour competition, allowing the Tories to win.

    :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    that was one of the worst things to read while eating cous cous for my lunch :(

  7. SamSam says:

    This is truly great.

    I wonder what the exact trait is that the beetle evolved in order to get her cape of fighter-mites? This symbiotic relationship must be two-ways, or the mites would never bother latching on. Maybe the beetle excretes some substance that is particularly delicious to mites?

    • MustWarnOthers says:

      Isn’t the free, unlimited bus ticket to food the main benefit to the mites? Doesn’t that make it symbiotic? Or does there need to be some other direct benefit for it to count as symbiotic?

      Pretty cool, but imagine waking up with a bunch of those in your bed?

      Not that it’s very likely considering not everyone who reads boinboing has carrion in their bed on a regular basis (Prostitutes can be fragile).

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, many mite species hitch rides on beetles (and other invertebrates) just to get around (try walking long distances on those short legs). This is called phoresy. It’s highly probable that these mites started that way and quickly adapted to exploit the added bonus of an excellent food source.

  8. Hal Jay Greene says:

    Seriously, to abuse the possessive apostrophe, not once, but TWICE!
    And from a professional writer, too (not that I don’t make my own egregious typos, but still…)

  9. Chrs says:

    Go, my minions, destroy the unclean ones that would eat our prize!

  10. powellb says:

    “squicky”?

  11. rockrobertson says:

    Carrion Beetle has a Posse…

  12. Crashproof says:

    Carrier^H^Hon beetle has arrived!

  13. showcasejase says:

    Fascinating!

    Reminds me of the Amaryllis Azure, which lays its eggs on mistletoe which grows on a tree that has been colonised by little black ants of the genus Papyrius.

    When the eggs hatch, the ants provide shelter for the caterpillars in their nest at the base of the tree or under the bark. The caterpillars are shepherded by the ants to a clump of mistletoe at nightfall to feed and then led back to their shelter at dawn.

    See http://showcasejase.blogspot.com/2009/03/mistletoe.html

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