Size: 148mm x 148mm
Original Painting Medium: Watercolour
Scientific Name: Psalidognathus friendii
Region: South America
For this subject I decided to use watercolours. The body of the beetle was iridescent, the body shimmered with a myriad of colours that appeared to change with the light. Until I started this watercolour painting I was unaware as to how beautifully striking these insects can be.
There are 370,000 species of beetle described to date and a number are of relatively large size, have remarkable forms and bright, often metallic, colours. Studies of the immensely rich insect faunas of tropical rain forests is still in its infancy. Recent investigations has led entomologists to predict that many beetle species still await discovery.
Beetles provide a vital service. Their impact on the world about us is through three types of activity: direct feeding on plants (including fungi), breaking down animal and plant debris, and preying on other invertebrates.
In order to identify my beetle, I contacted the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust County Recorder and Beetle expert, Michael Derby. In response to my request for help, he gave me the contact details of Maxwell Barclay, the Curator of the Coleoptera Department of Entomology at the Natural History Museum in London and Max very kindly replied with an identification.
My beetle is a female longhorn beetle, genus Psalidognathus. The flying beetles have larvae that live in dead wood in the tropical forests of South America. They serve a useful purpose in hastening the breakdown of dead wood and the return of nutrients to the soil.
Thanks to Michael from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for pointing me in the right direction and a big thank you to Max at the Natural History Museum for all the information – a lovely conclusion to my quest.