T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Beetle (Pintail) Hoshihananomia antarctica

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:     Arthropoda
Class:        Insecta
Order:       Coleoptera
Superfamily:       Tenebrionoidea
Family:      Mordellidae
Subfamily: Mordellinae
Tribe: Mordellini
Genus: Hoshihananomia
Species: H. Antarctica
Binominal name: Hoshihananomia antarctica
Common name: Pintail beetle. Tumbling flower beetle.

Hoshihananomia antarctica is in the family Mordellidae, commonly known as tumbling flower beetles for the typical irregular movements they make when escaping predators, or as pintail beetles due to their abdominal tip (pygidium) which aids them in performing these tumbling movements. Worldwide, there are about 1500 species.
The apparently tumbling movements are composed of a series of very rapid separate jumps (each jump is of a duration of approximately 80 ms). They result from the beetle's efforts to get itself back into take-off position for flight when it has been in either lateral or dorsal position. Each individual jump should be considered as an extended rotation, performed by one leg of the third leg pair (metapodium). Depending on whether the left or the right metapodium is used as the leg that provides the leverage for take-off, change occurs in the direction of the jump. The energy for propulsion varies with the beetle's immediate muscle work, so that jump lengths and heights vary, with rotation frequencies recorded up to 48 rotation per second around the gravitation centre of the body's longitudinal axis.
The beetle’s body is humpbacked, more or less wedge-shaped; broadest at front; head is bent forward, attached ventrally; abdomen pointy, extending beyond elytra (modified, hardened forewing). Hind legs enlarged. They kick and tumble about when disturbed. Its antennae are short and are saw-toothed. The tarsal claws are bilobed (two lobes).







Photo showing head  bent forward, the saw-toothed antennae.