Longhorn Beetle Original Art
Frame: Black - Mount: White
Giclee 'OPEN EDITION' Prints Available
Original Painting Medium: Watercolour
Scientific Name: Psalidognathus friendii
Region: South America
When painting and illustrating I prefer to use oils, gouache or pencil - it is not often that I paint using watercolours. For this subject watercolours seemed appropriate though. The body of the beetle 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.
Until recently the identity of this particular beetle has been a total mystery to me. Over the past few years I have searched through reference books and contacted various people but to no avail.
I am delighted to say that a helping hand came recently in the form of 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. Max very kindly replied with an identification - I was abslutely delighted. Apparently 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.