Sunday 15 April 2018

Copelatus yaguarete: A new species of Diving Beetle from Belize.

Diving Beetles (Dytiscidae) are often largish predatory Beetles with an aquatic lifestyle. Both the adults and larvae are predatory, though they are otherwise quite different. The young are aggressive shrimplike animals that emerge from eggs laid on plant stems. When fully grown these pupate in mud (above the water table), emerging as oval, brownish Beetles, capable of both flying to disperse and diving to lay eggs and feed. Both adults and young deliver a powerful bite, and inject digestive enzymes into their prey, which can include other Insects, Crustaceans, Worms, Leeches, Mollusks, Tadpoles and small Fish. The Beetles then feed by sucking fluids out of their victims. Members of the genus Copelatus are found throughout North, South and Central America, as well as the islands of the Caribbean. This is an extremely large genus, with a current total of 439 described species, although the majority of these are island endemics (i.e. species found only on a single island) from the Antilles.

In a paper published in the Belgian Journal of Entomology on 7 March 2018, Kevin Scheers of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest describes a new species of Copelatus from the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize, Central America.

The new species is named Copelatus yaguarete, meaning 'Jaguar', in reference to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, which was set up specifically to provide a safe environment for these Cats. The species was found at two locations within the park, in puddles close to the Tiger Fern Double Waterfall and on the trail from the waterfall to to Ben’s Bluff, at altitudes of 140 and 100 m above sealevel respectively. The Beetles range from 5.55 to 5.90 mm in length and 2.70 to 2.95 mm in width, and are brown in colour with yellow markings and pale legs.

Copelatus yaguarete, male specimen in dorsal view. Scheers (2018).

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