Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Allenius iviei

Allenius iviei
Well hurray, it's time to learn about a brand new species! This recently discovered Ladybird Beetle is one of the rarest in the United States, and is known from only two specimens.

Allenius iviei was identified as a new species when a male landed on a trap set in Montana by entomology grad student Ross Winton. Winton at first thought that the tiny creature was a body part of an ant or another insect, not a whole specimen. Most confusing was the fact that the insect looked headless!

It was soon discovered that the Beetle was not headless at all-- it actually was able to retract it back into its thorax, much like how a turtle can pull their head into their shell. It was also discovered that the specimen was a male, and matched a female that was found in Idaho. Because there are now two examples, one of each sex, the insect was able to be declared a new species (with the species name derived from the name of Winton's adviser, Michael Ivie).

There is still much to learn about Allenius iviei. But for now it remains a rare, elusive, and unusual Ladybug. The head retracting, tiny size, and sand-dune habitat have made it unique enough to belong to a brand new genus, which it shares with A. californianus, another recent discovery.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : United States
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Insecta -- Order : Coleoptera
Family : Coccinellidae -- Genus : Allenius -- Species : A. iviei

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