Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An example of San Felipe's fauna

On our way out to the car to go to lunch on New Year's Day, Liz spotted this handsome gal crawling along the ground in San Felipe.  Knowing my love for this sort of thing, and because we had found a dead one of these in Chaclacayo, which I showed the kids, she immediately pointed it out to me.

This is a female specimen of what we used to call "toritos" (little bulls), and are scientifically classed in the genus Golofa. This species is probably Golofa aegeon.   I believe that it is a jungle species that was introduced to Lima decades ago and which has adapted to life in the local climate.

The larvae of these beetles live underground and feed on rotting wood.  When I was a child we would occasionally find the large grubs with massive jaws when digging and in rotten wood posts, but it wasn't until later that I made the connection with the adult beetles.  I'm not sure that the adults even eat.  Though they have palps, they do not seem to have any external mouth parts, and I never had occasion to observe a tongue in one of them.

The adults would appear in spring and summer and it was their habit to fly around at dusk, usually high up near the tree tops but would frequently come buzz closer to the ground, and where then not too hard to catch if one moved fast enough to get to them before they again rose out of reach.

At one time, in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was the custom in San Felipe to surround the gardens with wire supported by log sections, toritos were fairly common, but as that practice was stopped I worried that they might have disappeared from the place.  I was gratified that such was not the case and that, even if in reduced numbers, these handsome insects can still be found there.

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