Bioscience Biotechnology Research Communications

An Open Access International Journal

P-ISSN: 0974-6455 E-ISSN: 2321-4007

Bioscience Biotechnology Research Communications

An Open Access International Journal

Jashodeb Arjun, Karina Tamuli, Kaushik Boruah, Nikita
Borah, Joyshree Saikia Rajdeep Nath and Rajesh Paul

Department of Zoology, Silapathar Science College (P.G.), Assam Science
Technology University, Silapathar, Assam, India

Coresponding author email: jashodeb@gmail.com

DOI:

Article Publishing History

Received:

Accepted After Revision:

ABSTRACT:

This investigation is a short term assessment which is attempted to explore the diversity of beetles in Lakhimpur, Assam as the region  is extensively familiar for its biodiversity enrichment. Lakhimpur, a district of Assam receives tropical wet evergreen forest and lies in northern bank of river Bramhaputra. The district is adobe to many valuable flora and fauna. Trigerred by our inquisitiveness, we planned an experiment and  collected beetle samples from 4 distinct areas as paddy land, vegetable, garden and forest areas. Beetles were collected twice a day from 6.30-11am during morning and 3-5 pm during evening. Several  approved collection techniques like Light trap, Pitfall trap, hand picking were applied.

Beetles were then brought to the laboratory and stored in 4% formaldehyde in sterilised small glass vials. Identification was done followed by standard identification manuals. Remarkably, 25 species of beetles belonging to 13 different families have been  identified in Lakhimpur as May beetle, Derobrachus geminates, Oriental beetle, Aphodine dung beetle, Heteronychus arator, Gonocephalum simplex, Chrysochus cobaltinus, Compsosternus auratus, Gyrinus substriatus and others.Weather parameters like temperature, relative humidity, rainfall may have influence over beetle abundance in Lakhimpur. Our beyond expectation findings clearly indicated that Lakhimpur,  like other parts of Assam is heavily blessed with different varieties of insects .

KEYWORDS:

Beetles, Weevils, Insects Diversity, Lakhimpur, Assam.

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Arjun J, Tamuli K, Boruah K, Borah N, Saikia J,Nath R, Paul R.On the Diversity and Abundance of Beetles in Lakhimpur, Assam India. Biosc.Biotech.Res.Comm. 2022;15(4).


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Arjun J, Tamuli K, Boruah K, Borah N, Saikia J, Nath R, Paul R.On the Diversity and Abundance of Beetles in Lakhimpur, Assam India. Biosc.Biotech.Res.Comm. 2022;15(4). Available from: <a href=”https://bit.ly/3TVEhZe“>https://bit.ly/3TVEhZe</a>

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INTRODUCTION

Beetles are contemplated as the largest among all insects making up around 30% of all the insect species described so far (Abou-Shaara et al, 2021). They extensively come under the order ‘Coleoptera’ .The word is derived from Greek word ‘keleos’ meaning ‘sheathed wing’(Branco and Cardoso, 2020 ). Around 3,50,000 species of beetles have been identified universally (Gullan and Cranston, 2010). Sighted in all kinds of habitats like soil, dead plants, logs, dung, etc. Beetles have been described to feed on fungi, plants and animal matter. Beetles exhibit many interesting features like they are endopterygotes (undergoing complete metamorphosis) ; traps air bubbles for diving purpose (water beetle) ; chemical defense for protection (Tenebrionidae), parasitism (Platypsyllus castoris) (Das et al, 2016).

From anatomical point of view beetles  resembles to other class of insects excluding the elytra, which is formed by hardening of frontal pair of wings.They reveal many adaptations like camouflage (Chrysomelidae), mimicry (Cerambycidae), aposematism, chemical defense (Tenebrionidae), parasitism (Castor sp.), pollination (Cantharidae), mutualism(ambrosia beetle), tolerence to extreme environment (Stenocara gracilipes), migration (Coccinellids), etc. Although some appear as serious agricultural pests and damage crops where as many beetles are proved helpful like ladybeetle acts as a predator against Colorado potato beetle in crop fields. Ground beetles feed on cutworms, caterpillars, snails, slugs and other soil dwelling insects.rove beetles takes shelter beneath stones or wooden blocks acts as good decomposers.

Lakhimpur , a district of  Upper Assam is an administrative district of Assam. The district is bordered by Arunachal Pradesh, Majuli, Biswanath, Siang, etc.  and by Subansiri river from all around. It covers a total area of 2,277 km2 approx. The district is about 85m above sea level. Lakhimpur is geographically subdivided into 3 regions as- Narayanpur-Bihpuria, Dhakuakhana and North Lakhimpur. Biodiversity in enriched with tropical wet evergreen forest. Some popular forest reserves of Assam like Ranga Reserve, Dulung Reserve, Kakoi Reserve and Bardoibum-Beelmukh Wildlife Sanctuary are located in Lakhimpur and marks the biodiversity enrichment of this part of Assam.

Lakhimpur (Location, Constitution and Area) –

The rural area of Narayanpur is located about 7.2km from Tatibahar station, Lakhimpur, which comes under Bihpuria constituency. Our assessment was conducted specifically in various parts of Narayanpur.

Longitude – 94.20/                                                          Latitude – 27.53/

Average rainfall -1227mm approx.                               Humidity- 57%-63%.

Temperature – 9oC to 24oC during summer

Figure 1: Geographical location of Lakhimpur

The survey was conducted at 4 different sites as-

SITE A:- Vegetable area                                         SITE B:- Garden area

SITE C:- Forest area                                               SITE D:- Paddy land area

MATERIAL  AND  METHODS

Collection and assemblage of beetles were carried out randomly from four different sites. Beetle sampling was initiated with the onset of pre-monsoon season as this season marks the peak time for beetle emergence (Bhattacharyya  et al, 2015; Pathania M, and Chandel RS , 2016) and continued for 3 consecutive months from March to May, 2022 . Beetles were spotted twice on daily basis from 6.30am-11am during morning and 3pm-5pm during evening. Hand picking and insect catchimg nets were preferred. Collected beetles were killed by vapour of killing agents and brought to the laboratory with delicacy and later stored in 4% formaldehyde. Spotting was brought about based on physiological characteristics followed by the protocol of (Neog and Rajkhowa , 2016).

To monitor the abundance of  beetles Light Trap method was also applied followed by the protocol of  Reissing et al, 1986. Materials used for making Light Trap included bamboo/wooden poles, string/rope, kerosine lamp/electric blub and basin full of water/ jute sack. Light trap was installed in the target areas to trap beetles. The poles of the trap were firmly set on the ground and the bulb was mounted on the trap frame which was 5mtrs from the ground. To avoid electrocution , proper care was taken while using electric bulb. Next the jute sack was carefully set under the light chamber.

The device was left overnight for 3 consecitive months and trapped insects were collected during morning hours. Another effective and proved technique known as ‘Pitfall trap’ was also applied to encounter the abundance of beetles in Lakhimpur (Gist &Crossley, 1973).There are two of its kind as ‘dry pitfall trap’ and ‘wet pitfall trap’.We preferred wet pitfall trap where big wholes were made in the ground and filled with 4% formaldehyde so that insects fall over there and can be trapped easily.

Community structure analysis

Diversity of beetles were analysed using Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index (H). It is a renownened metric system used in ecological analysis. The index value rises with number of species and evenness of abundance. The more is diversity of species in habitat, the higher will be the index.

Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index (H)= -∑[ pi *log(pi)]

Where,

H= Shannon Diversity Index;   pi=Proportion of individuals of i-th species in a community;   pi=n/N,

Where,

n=Individuals of a given species and N=Total number of individuals of a community

Results And Discussion

Table 1.  Beetles spotted in Lakhimpur  from March to May, 2022.

SL

NO.

NAME   OF SPECIES SCIENTIFIC  CLASSIFICATION
KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY GENUS SPECIES
1 Phyllophaga sp.(May beetles) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Scarbaeidae Phyllophaga
2 Derobrachus geminatus Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Cerambycidae Derobrachus geminatus
3 Adoretus Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Scarbaeidae Adoretus
4 Anomala orientalis (Oriental beetle) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Scarbaeidae Anomala orientalis
5 Ataenius sp. (Aphodine dung beetle) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Scarbaeidae Ataenius
6 Cantharidae (Soldier beetle) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Cantharidae Cantharidae
7 Heteronychus arator (African black beetle) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Scarbaeidae Heteronychus arator
8 Cyclocephala

 

Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Scarbaeidae Cyclocephala
9 Fire coloured beetle Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Pyrochroidae
10 Gonocephalum simplex (Dusty brown beetle) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Tenebrioninae Gonocephalum simplex
11 Chlorophorus annularis Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Cerambycidae Chlorophorus annularis
12 Dung beetle Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Scarbaeoidae
13 Scarites (ground beetle) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Carabidae Scarites
14 Chrysochus cobaltinus (blue milk weed beetle) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Chrysomelidae Chrysochus cobaltinus
15 Brentidae (straight snouted weevils) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Brentidae Brentidae
16 Compsosternus auratus Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Elateridae Compsosternus auratus
17 Tiger beetle Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Carabidae
18 Darkling beetle Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Tenebrionidae Stenocara gracilipes
19 Lampyridae (Firefly) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Lampyridae Lampyridae
20 Gyrinus substriatus Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Gyrinidae Gyrinus
21 Rhynchophorus ferrugineus

(Red plan weevil)

Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Curculionidae Rhynchophorus

 

ferrugineus

 

22 Yellow orchid beetle Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Chrysomelidae
23 Predaceous diving beetle Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Dytiscidae
24 Tribolium confusum (Confused flour beetle) Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Tenebrionidae Tribolium confusum
25 Charidotella sexpunctata Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Coleoptera Chrysomelidae Charidotella sexpunctata

Table 2.  Comparative analysis of physiological features about beetles detected in Lakhimpur.

SL 

NO.

 

NAME OF SPECIES SPECIAL FEATURES BODY STRUCTURE COLOUR HOST PLANTS ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE
1  Phyllophaga sp.

( May

Beetles)

Nocturnal 12-35 mm Blackish/

reddish

brown.

Turf grass, ornamental christmas trees. Cranbarries and certain vegetables and field crops. Injury to roots and rootstock causes small sapling and tender tap rooted plants.
2 Derobrachus geminatus Have collar

of spines on thorax.

They fly at dusk.

3-3.5/4 inches. Sometimes

 6-8 inches.

Black/brown Paloverde trees, rose and olive plants. Helps in pollination.
3 Adoretus It is a small elongated oval beetle 10-12 mm Brown covered with numerous white creamy setae Lichu, rice,etc. They damage wide variety of agricultural crops and several other plants.
4 Anomala orientalis (Oriental beetle) Adults are weak fliers. Overwintering occurs in the final instars. Body length o.7-11 cm or 8-13 cm. Shape oval. Metallic brown and black coloured elytra. Daisies, roses, hollyhock, phlox and petunias. Causing damage to horticultural species such as Dahlia sp., corn, crossberry.
5 Ataenius sp.

(Aphodine dung beetle)

Male dung beetle have distinct horns , shows symbiotic relationship with mites. 1.5-4.5 cm in length. Brown/black/ bright metallic green  in colour This species breeds and feeds on the dung of carnovores. Eat mushrooms , carrion and decaying leaves And fruits. They help in maintaining nutrient cycle . they present population of parasitic flies from breeding in the fresh faeces.
6 Cantharidae (Soldier beetle) Also known as catherwings because of their soft elytra. 5-10 mm (0.2-0.6 inches) Brown and black and trimmed like a soldiers uniform with red, yellow and orange. Roses and other flowers. Goldenred. Soldiers beetles are important pollinators.
7 Heteronychus arator (African black beetle) Antennae 10 segmented, with a 3 segmented club. 12-15 mm long. Shiny black oval shaped beetle (black to dark reddish brown) Crop plants, garden flowers trees and shrubs. Damage turf and under ground crops notably potato tubers.
8 Cyclocephala Usually attracted to lights 11-14 mm long ; 6-7 mm wide Dull yellow brown with dark markings on head and legs Plants roots and other matter near the soft surface Damage crop lands.
9 Fire coloured beetle They have 2 luminiscent spots at the posterior corners of the pronotur. 4-20 mm Orange/red in color. Feeds on pollen, necter, fungus and rooting wood. Not harmful in nature.
10 Gonocephalum simplex (Dusty brown beetle) They may become canniblastic if too crowded. 1.5 inches Dusty brown in colour Feeds on coffee and rice Pest of a wide orange of crops and poor plant stands . eg-cereals.
11 Chlorophorus annularis Mostly found in bamboo forest. 0.6 inches (15 mm) long and 0.2 (5 mm) wide. Yellow with black tiger like markings. Bamboo, cotton, sugar cane It is a serious and damaging pest of bamboo.
12 Dung beetle Dung beetles are known to bring ecological balance and economic advantage to environment. 5-30 mm Brown/black in colour. Dung beetles eat liquid from animal dung. Beetles are important for the breakdown and recycling of dung into the soil.
13 Scarites (ground beetle) Found mostly in terrestrial habitat 25-35 mm long Attractive purple/ multicoloured dark brown to black Fungi, decaying wood Act as biological control agents in agro ecosystem.
14 Chrysochus cobaltinus (blue milk weed beetle) It rarely has an exposing pygidium. 6.9 mm (0.24-0.35 inches) in length. Blue in colour. Feeds on foliage and flowers of newly developed plants. Pest for many plants, causes damage to plants.
15 Brentidae (straight snouted weevils) They are identified by their distictive long snouts and antennae . 0.5-50 mm long Dark in colour with orange markings in wings Fungi, seeds, dead wood Damages and kills crops
16 Compsosternus auratus Slender body Approx 4.5 cm in length Metallic green Nector, pollen grains, sometimes soft insects like aphids Helps to avoid predation.
17 Tiger beetle Have large bulging eyes, long slender legs and large curve mandible. 10-20 mm long (2/5-4/5 inches) long Uniform black in colour, greyinsh brown to black with white spots Feeds upon spiders Considered as indicators of healthy environmental conditions.
18 Darkling beetle Only identifiable with lens/microscope 1-1.5 cm Feeds on dead plants , fungal material, seeing flying around in gardens and woodland areas. They can be vectors of diseases and source of several diseases like acute leucosis. They are served as bird food known as mealurosms.
19 Lampyridae (Firefly) In firefly bioluminescence organs are found 5-25 mm Vivid yellowish orange, gree, yellowish green Soft bodies insects that live on ground like snails, slungs worms, etc. Fireflies contribute to the food web stability, playing important role as both predators and prey
20 Gyrinus substriatus (whirligig beetle) It is an aquatic beetle, swims underwater. Boat shaped. 6mm (0.24 inches) long and 4.5 mm (0.18 inches) wide. Black in colour with a metallic shine Whirligig beetles feed by capturing and eating dead/decaying plants. This beetle will scavenge on decaying plant material and detritus in fresh bodies of water.
21 Rhynchophorus ferrugineus

(Red plan weevil)

Weevil larva can excavate holes in trunks of palm trees. Adult insect is an excellent flier 35 mm long and 10 mm wide and are characterised by a long curved rostrum They have brown head and white body , dark spots are visible on the upperside of the middle part of the body. They mostly feed on red plam, date and coconut It is an invasive pest that causes severe economic loss in plam plant cultivation.
22 Yellow orchid beetle Mostly found near waterfalls They have well developed legs, wings and antennae Striking yellow body with black eyes Orchid plant They destroy flowers, mostly orchids.
23 Predaceous diving beetle Larva are called ‘water tigers’. These beetles prefer quiet at the edges of ponds and streams, floating gently among weeds. Larva are elongated ,flattened and can be 2 inches long. Shiny black, brown to dive beetles, sometimes with yellowish marks. Fierce predators, they donot hesitate to attack prey larger than themselves, including small fish, tadpoles and frogs. Predaceous diving beetles are common and important members of freshwater ecosystem.
24 Tribolium confusum (Confused flour beetle) Distinctive antenna with 4 segments which gradually thickens towards the tip; shape of thorax is also special. 3-6mm (1/8-1/4 inch) in length Reddish brown in colour Found in infested grains, feeding on broken grains and other food items like rice, dried fruits. Considered as common model organism in science.
25 Charidotella sexpunctata Their crystal margins are expanded and nearly transparent. Adult measures 5-7mm in length. Color varies from reddish brown with black spots to brilliant, mirror like  gold Consumes foliage of plants, sweet potato, morning glory Common garden pests

Table 3. Result of Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index.

SL NO. SPECIES pi * In(pi) H
1 Phyllophaga sp. -0.065  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.235

rounded off to 1.2

 

2 Derobrachus geminatus -0.033
3 Adoretus -0.065
4 Anomala orientalis -0.045
5 Ataenius sp. -0.073
6 Cantharidae -0.055
7 Heteronychus arator -0.020
8 Cyclocephala -0.045
9 Fire coloured beetle -0.045
10 Gonocephalum simplex -0.065
11 Chlorophorus annularis -0.055
12 Dung beetle -0.073
13 Scarites -0.045
14 Chrysochus cobaltinus -0.055
15 Brentidae -0.033
16 Compsosternus auratus -0.033
17 Tiger beetle -0.055
18 Darkling beetle -0.055
19 Lampyridae -0.087
20 Gyrinus substriatus -0.033
21 Rhynchophorus ferrugineus -0.026
22 Yellow orchid beetle -0.073
23 Predaceous diving beetle -0.033
24 Tribolium confusum -0.065
25 Charidotella sexpunctata -0.003

Figure 2: Relative abundance beetles recorded in Lakhimpur from March to May, 2022.

Figure 3: Pictures of some spotted beetles- (a) Ataenius sp,(b) Cyclocephala,  ,(c) Brentidae, (d) Scarites, (e) Phyllophaga sp, (f) Heteronychus arator, (g) Gonocephalum simplex () Darkling beetle, (h) Tiger beetle, (j) Oriental beetle, (k) Fire coloured beetle, (l) Derobrachus geminatus

More than 500 beetles were captured from March to May, 2022. A total of  25 species of beetles belonging to 13 different families were spotted. Scarbaeidae family beetles took  lead followed by Chrysomelidae and Cerambycidae. Among the dominant species were Lampyridae(Firefly) (8.53%); Yellow orchid beetle(6.54%); Ataenius sp. (Aphodine dung beetle), Dung beetle (6.34%); Gonocephalum simplex (Dusty brown beetle) (5.95%); Phyllophaga sp.(May Beetles), Adoretus , Tribolium confusum (Confused flour beetle) (5.15%). Whereas Darkling beetle (4.56%); Cantharidae (Soldier beetle), Chlorophorus annularis (4.36%); Chrysochus cobaltinus (blue milk weed beetle), Tiger beetle (4.16%); Fire coloured beetle (3.76%); Anomala orientalis (Oriental beetle) (3.57%); Cyclocephala, Scarites (ground beetle)(3.37%); Brentidae (straight snouted weevils) , Compsosternus auratus (2.57%); Derobrachus geminatus, Gyrinus substriatus, Predaceous diving beetle (2.38%) showed noticable gathering. Only Heteronychus arator (African black beetle)(1.98%); Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Red plan weevil) (0.59%); Charidotella sexpunctata (0.19%) turned up in less or very less quantity.

Lampyridae, the light emitting firefly belonging to Suborder Polyphaga and Superfamily Elateroidea administered as most dominant which might be due to its preference of temperate and tropical climatic conditions. Fire flies have been reported to disappear day by day due to excessive use of pesticides, fungisides, human traffic, light pollution and many more (Patole, 2019). Dung beetle has good role in agriculture, improving soil fertility, seed dispersal, protection of livestock, etc. But in our study their dominancy indicated proper management of ecosystem by the people of Assam which is a good remark as fire flies are human friendly (Latha and Sabu, 2018).  Ataenius sp. and Yellow orchid beetles are considered as harmful for damaging crops and flowering plants , hence their huge presence might be seriously noted (Sruthi and Roopavathy, 2021).

simplex also known as Dusty brown beetle, acts as soil dwelling beetle greatly contribute to agroecosystem including predation, decomposition, etc. Though Darkling beetles are good source of food for birds, lizards, rodents, spiders, etc. but they cause immense harm to poultry by transmitting diseases among flocks, decreasing growth and productivity. Cantharidae (Soldier beetle) are abundant visitors of firmland & known as important biocontrols prior to their contribution in agriculture, pollination, etc.

As the name signifies , they feeds on eggs and larva of insects which are injurious to crops. They secrete noxious chemicals in ‘self defence’(Gupta et al., 2020). For multiple reasons tiger beetle are beneficial as they feeds upon pests including ants, caterpillars, spiders, etc. Chrysochus cobaltinus though are harmful to host plants as they consume new leafs and flowers in bulk when attack in groups (Kaud and Sharma, 2017 ). Tribolium confusum attacks stored grains where their dead bodies, fecal pellets causes pungent smell resulting in rejection of grains (Kalawate, 2019).

 Predaceous diving beetle, most common among other aquatic beetles, is known as ‘water tiger’, feeds on aquatic insects, tadpoles and sometimes beetles of its own kind (Morgon, 1992). They can be best collected by light trapping method at night where as can be easily collected in freshwater zones in day time. Apart from the rest of beetles captured, Charidotella sexpunctata was the least abundant during our survey. Weather parameters like temperature, rainfall, humidity, moisture might have positively influenced the abundance of beetles and other insect pests in Lakhimpur (Yumamura et al., 2006).

Insects are pecilothermal animals. Researches have proved that weather factors like temperature, relative humidity, rain fall, etc. remarkably influences the abundance, intensity, distribution, feeding behaviour of beetles and most of the insects in any area (Sima and Srivastava, 2012). Temperature interfers in the metabolic activities of insects and leads to increase their larval and pupal growth (Montgomery et al.,2020). Insects grows best in between temperature range of 15-38 o C Rainfall also effects insect dynamics. In researches it has been reported that insects seasonality is related to rainy season as in rainy season there is abundance of food resources which gives high peak to population (Smith et al., 2017). Results of Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index with index value (H=1.2) correlated with beetle abundance in Lakhimpur.

CONCLUSION

Scarabaeidae family under order coleoptera is the largest and most abundant family of insects. Maintaining resemblance with our previous successful attempt to explore the insect diversity in Silapathar district, this attempt also surprised us. 25 species of beetles were spotted during our  short term initiative with limited resources. The diverse climatic conditions of Assam as well as Lakhimpur have huge contribution in enriching the diversity of beetles as well as other organisms in this very area. We are enthusiastic that long term surveys will explore more about beetles of Assam like their roles in ecosystem, feeding habits, life cycle, adaptations, predations, etc.

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