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Red-necked False Blister Beetle

 

If you find a blossoming Trout Lily in the woods it is quite likely that you will also find one of its most common pollinators, the Red-necked False Blister Beetle (Asclera ruficollis), on it. Ardent pollen eaters, this group of beetles obtain their common name because many species cause blisters when pinched or squashed against skin. Adults mate on flower heads during pollen feeding. Both sexes feed on pollen, which acts as an attractant, but the female will not accept the male until her gut is packed full of pollen. She stores the pollen in a special intestinal sack in which an enzyme causes the pollen to partially germinate — this causes the indigestible covering of the pollen grain to rupture. She then digests the contents of the pollen grain, which she uses to manufacture eggs. 

6 responses

  1. Carlene Squires

    fascinating!!

    April 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

  2. Susan in NH

    amazing! Hope I find a trout lily soon.

    April 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm

  3. Micky

    How can pollen germanate??

    May 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

    • Hi Micky,
      I think this explanation from Wikipedia probably explains it better than I could. “Another germination event during the life cycle of gymnosperms and flowering plants is the germination of a pollen grain after pollination. Like seeds, pollen grains are severely dehydrated before being released to facilitate their dispersal from one plant to another. They consist of a protective coat containing several cells (up to 8 in gymnosperms, 2-3 in flowering plants). One of these cells is a tube cell. Once the pollen grain lands on the stigma of a receptive flower (or a female cone in gymnosperms), it takes up water and germinates. Pollen germination is facilitated by hydration on the stigma, as well as by the structure and physiology of the stigma and style.[2] Pollen can also be induced to germinate in vitro (in a petri dish or test tube).[6][7]
      During germination, the tube cell elongates into a pollen tube. In the flower, the pollen tube then grows towards the ovule where it discharges the sperm produced in the pollen grain for fertilization. The germinated pollen grain with its two sperm cells is the mature male microgametophyte of these plants.”

      May 2, 2012 at 2:58 am

  4. lyn

    When I was a kid I tried to squash one with a stick, it flew up and stung me in the eye. My eye swelled up so much, it popped out of the socket. But all worked out, no permant damage to my eye. But since then, I avoid these lil devils.

    April 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    • That sounds terrible, Lyn. I had no idea they had the potential to do that much harm. Thanks for sharing.

      April 19, 2013 at 12:27 am

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