Why do har­le­quin bee­tles have such long front legs?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our Wild World - Richard Jones

AMales of the South Amer­i­can har­le­quin beetle have enor­mous front legs, of­ten twice the length of their bod­ies. Such lank­i­ness has evolved to the point of weapon­i­sa­tion. When fight­ing over a fe­male, a male will at­tempt to use his fore­limbs to hook his op­po­nent un­der an ‘armpit’ and fling him from the tree. It’s a risky strategy, as the leg swings close to the ad­ver­sary’s short-but-pow­er­ful jaws, and bits of leg and an­tenna fre­quently go miss­ing. Many con­tests do not end up in phys­i­cal con­tact, how­ever – a male of­ten with­draws when con­fronted by a larger, longer-legged op­po­nent.

Har­le­quin bee­tles risk life and limb over fe­males.

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