With a tip of the hat to fungus eater (an ironclad beetle), here's a cactus eater:
Officially Moneilema gigas on bugguide.net, the opuntia long-horned beetle is absolutely fantastic. This post is backdated to reflect a date of finding, photographing, and unfortunately collecting (may it rest in peace in the collection at SRSU). The rest of the photos below are from August, but with less worry of impending class deadline!
So the above critter was hiding from me - below gives you an idea of the usual setting for our encounters, we must have half a dozen as neighbors. Look to the left of center... a little more...
They don't seem to do much damage (if you're not fond of cow-tongue prickly pear anyway), and since the entire town of Marathon is covered in pricklies of one sort or another, it's really quite negligible.
Neat snacking pattern, eh? And the toes! The toes!!! Love the toes. Somehow they manage to feast in, among, and around the pointy-stabby parts of the cactus without impaling themselves. In the process of getting photos, several direct hits were taken, but perhaps that's due to size and soft exterior.
Anyway, these delightful little neighbors are pretty much seen only on our early morning walk-of-the-dogs, and seem to retreat by the time the sun gets to their spot (which, depending on the forest next door, could be nearly 11 am!)
Mmmm. Cactus. And toes. Did we mention the toes?
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