Never-before-seen beetle species found in Pudong

Updated 2017-12-14 15:02:11

A new beetle species has been spotted at the Binjiang Forest Park in Pudong.

A new beetle species which has never been recorded in Shanghai — or even the world — has been spotted at the Binjiang Forest Park in the Pudong New Area, local greenery officials announced on Wednesday.

The extremely rare beetle belonging to the Eustra genus has oval-shaped black spots on its wings. It emits odor and produces noxious or even caustic secretions which is used to deter would-be predators, according to the Shanghai Wildlife Protection Management Station affiliated to the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau.

People may get burned if they catch the beetle with their bare hands, it said.

Most beetles in the genus have similar capability, and, as a result, have been nicknamed "flanged bombardier beetle," the station revealed.

All members of the genus are very rare insects. They are timid and like hiding in a dark and damp environment like rotten wood, ants' nest and caves.

It is difficult to detect them because they seldom come out, officials said.

The beetle was accidentally found by Peng Zhong, a researcher of Shanghai Normal University, and Song Xiaobin, an insect expert, during a science popularization event late last year in which residents were taken on a search of plants and insects at the park to experience biodiversity.

The beetle was collected from rotten wood by accident along with some other insects. They were taken back to the laboratory to be made into specimen.

"At first sight, I did not recognize it as a new species," Song conceded.

Five months later, Peng and Song, having inspected the insects, discovered a brand new species.

The new beetle is highly similar to Eustra chinensis, another species of the genus, in appearance, but it is smaller with its body about 3.12 millimeters long on average, said Song.

They also differ in living habits with the former preferring ants' caves, while the later dwell in forests, he added.

The beetle hides under damp rotten wood and eats springtail and acarid.

In the last decade, very few new species of Eustra genus have been spotted in Shanghai, likely because they easily die if their dark and damp living environment is disturbed, revealed Song.

Peng and Song have spotted about 200 beetles of the new species at the park, thanks to the lush forest near rivers at the park which has very few visitors, providing an ideal habitat for the insects.

The new species is the 26th of the Eustra genus.

The station is seeking a name from the public for the beetle from the five names already picked — namely Eustra shanghaiensis, Eustra huangxiei, Eustra swinhoei, Eustra bingang and Eustra zhendan. People can vote on the station's WeChat account.

Shanghai has already found two new beetle species this year. One was spotted at Shanghai Zoo, while the other was discovered on Tianma Mountain.

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