Dr. Michael Caterino and Dr. Alexey Tishechkin of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History reported their discovery of 85 new species of beetles from the genus Baconia in the Oct. 15, 2013, issue of the journal Zookeys.
The discovery brings the total known number of Baconia species to 116. The new species were found in existing museum collections and during the researcher’s fieldwork in North America and South America. The genus Baconia was originally named in honor of Francis Bacon the Elizabethan philosopher.
The beetles are known for their dazzling bright blue, green, and purple metallic colors and for their foul disposition. The Baconia beetles prey on other beetles and their larvae. One species uses the sexual attraction of a bark beetle pheromone as a signal where to find new prey. The flat shape of the beetle’s bodies allows them to be stealthy hunters and remain hidden under leaves or inside the bark of trees until they attack their prey.
The researchers expect to find potentially hundreds more new species of Baconia based on their previous work. Even though the Baconia beetles are considered to be very rare because so few examples exist in museum collections, the new discovery of 73 percent of existing species argues for a potential multitude of new jewel beetles of a variety of colors waiting to be found.