Color variability and body size of larvae of two Epomis species (Coleoptera, Carabidae) in Israel, with a key to the larval stages

Gil Wizen, Avital Gasith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Species identification using the characteristics of developmental stages is challenging. However, for insect taxonomy the coloration of larval stages can be an informative feature. The use of live specimens is recommended for this because the color fades in preserved specimens. In this study we examine the possibility of using variation in coloration and color pattern of larvae in order to distinguish between two ground beetles species Epomis dejeani (Dejean, 1831) and E. circumscriptus (Duftschmid, 1812). We present an atlas and describe the coloration and body size of the three larval stages of the above species based on live specimens. An identification key is given for the three larval instars of the two Epomis species. The first instar larvae of the two Epomis species can be easily distinguished based on their color. From the second instar on, the variability in coloration and color patterns increases, creating an overlap in these attributes between larvae of the two species. Except for minor differences in color of the antennae and the base of the mandibles, larvae of the two species are indistinguishable at the second and third larval stages. To the best of our knowledge this is the first attempt to use variation in coloration and color pattern in live larvae in order to identify coleopterans. The color atlas of the larvae enables simple separation of the two Epomis species without requiring sophisticated magnifying devices, although it is less straightforward at the second and third larval stages. We found similar body lengths between the two species for all developmental stages, except for third instar larvae prior to pupation. In the two species the difference in larval body length before pupation positively correlated with that of the adult beetles. More than 70% of the adults' length can be explained by the length of the late third-instar larva; i.e. the large larvae develop into large adults. The larger specimens are the females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-52
Number of pages16
JournalZooKeys
Volume119
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Body size
  • Carabidae
  • Color atlas
  • Epomis larvae

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