Amateur naturalists revel in the idea that all of nature's living plants and creatures should have a simple name. For dedicated individuals who delve into scientific classification this may be partly true. However, coming up with a common name for any local specimen discovered on field trips isn't always easy. My pictured beetle (Neoclytus scutellaris) is a good example of a specimen without a common name.
The larvae of this species have been recorded as breeding on hickory, elm, white oak and grape. So, without a common or vernacular name, what do we mighty leaders tell our students? Ah, truth must be forthcoming: there are over 600,000 described beetles on record with hundreds of tropical species being added each year. Beetles make up the largest Order in the animal kingdom and have approximately as many species within the Order as are plant species found within the entire plant kingdom.
To overcome the ills of a naturalist's frustration I resorted to a reasonable remedy: “Hey guys, here's another beetle belonging to the long-horn beetle family.”
Copyright © 2003 William T. Hathaway.