Fiery Eye-Candy

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I came across one of the most striking beetles today that you'll ever find in Ohio.  The fittingly named Fiery Searcher Caterpillar Hunter (Calosoma scrutator) is best described as beauty with a bite. 


Their beauty is clearly on display with deeply grooved metallic green elytra edged in lustrous reddish-orange.  The elytra are actually hardened front wings that protect the abdomen and membranous hind wings.  All beetles share this general body plan as described in the name Coleoptera:  coleo = sheath; ptera = wing.


Fiery Searcher Caterpillar Hunter


The eye-candy continues with a dark blue prothoracic shield that is edged by a radiant ring of copper-orange.  This flame-like motif is responsible for the "fiery" in the common name.


However, I believe the most colorful display is revealed by flipping the beetle over to expose a carnival glass-like mix of green and reddish-copper that plays off the vibrant colors of the long legs best described as dark blue fading into electric-violet.  You need a color-wheel to give accurate names to the range of colors displayed beneath this colorful beetle.


​​​​Fiery Searcher Caterpillar Hunter


The bite of this predacious beetle comes from their powerful, sickle-shaped mandibles.  Fiery searchers hunt down and feast on free-range caterpillar meat as well as any other soft-bodied insect they can clamp their mandibles on; thus the "caterpillar hunter" part of their common name.


Fiery Searcher Caterpillar Hunter


Fiery searcher caterpillar hunters live for 2 to 3 years spending the winter beneath bark or in the soil.  They are one of the largest "ground beetles" (family Carabidae) found in Ohio measuring around 1 1/4" in length.  These large meat eaters are one of our more significant insect predators with the capability of having a substantial impact on the population densities of general defoliators.


​​Fiery Searcher Caterpillar Hunter


Their large size and obvious hunting equipment which includes long legs, big eyes (The better to see you with, my dear!), as well as obvious mandibles (The better to eat you with, my dear!) makes the fiery searcher a perfect model for teaching about insect predators.  Of course, you should use pictures, not live specimens because they bite.  They're miniature wolves after all.