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A Harlequin in Belize

28 May 2012 No Comment

In the 16th century a new form of theatre emerged in Italy called Commedia dell’arte. This performing art soon became vastly popular with improvised performances by actors and particularly harlequins (elaborately dressed clowns with masks). In Belize one can often times spot a tropical american  beetle with an intricate design resembling a harlequin costume. This beetle is commonly know as the Harlequin beetle and it’s scientific name longimanus (in Latin) describes its long legs, which are used for jumping, climbing and in the case of males as a sexual advertisement for females.

The Harlequin Beetle (Arocinus longimanus), is very conspicuous due to its elaborate harlequinlike pattern of black, yellowish, and red markings. This species ranges from southern Mexico to South America and uses a variety of trees as host plants. Among these are a number of species of ficus, Bay Cedar Tree (Gauzuma ulmifolia), Rubber Tree(Castilla elastica), Breadnut Tree (Brosimum alicastrum), which are all found at the Rainforest Medicine Trail at Chaa Creek. The life cycle in Belize is annual and adults are active from about June to November in the wet season. Adults are mostly diurnal but are reported as also being nocturnal and attracted to light.

Photography by Naturalist Guide Hilberto Tut.


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