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Name: Rene J.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 
Thursday, June 06, 2002



Question:
I live in Texas where as a child I grew up collecting the outer skins of June bugs. I would find their "skins" on the bark of the trees surrounding our house. The bugs that I'm talking about are about an inch in length and their coloring is brown. They have a hard shell like skin. They also can fly. I was told by someone that June bugs don't shed their skin. Am I right in what I am calling these bugs, and that they do shed an outer layer of skin when they are in their complete adult stage?


Replies:
The insects I called June bugs when I was little are beetles. The insects you are describing sound like cicadas, which live most of their lives underground, then climb up the trunks of trees to shed their juvenile skin and emerge as winged adults.

However, I am not an entomologist, and I do not know the proper names for any of these creatures. Your question illustrates exactly the reason that scientists use specific taxonomic names for species, so that there is no question what they are talking about.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois


You may wish to try the following site, which serves as a general reference for plants and animals.

It is also a good place for plant and animal taxonomy.

http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/

---Nathan A. Unterman


Rene,

First of all, June Bugs are not "bugs" by definition, they are beetles!

Secondly, you have confused the life cycle of this insect. This insect goes through complete metamorphosis. It startes out as an egg, hatches into a larvae, grows into the pupa stage, craws up a tree and emerges as an adult breaking out of the pupa exoskeleton. The skin you found on tree barks is the outer covering of the pupa stage. The adult breaks out of this pupa exoskeleton to fly and mate. Mating is the sole purpose of the adult stage. Once the adult has emerged, it does not shed any outer exoskeleton. The outer skins you collected did not show any indication of having wings. Wings are found only on the adults.

Steve Sample


June "bugs" are beetles in the insect order Coleoptera; true bugs are in the order Hemiptera. Beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, changing from larvae to pupae to adults, and the adults do not shed their skin. However it is common to find dead adults in the summer, and the hard outer shells may persist after the soft parts are scavenged or decay.

J. Elliott


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