In the warm season, you can meet many different insects on the street, each of which performs its own functions in the natural environment. Insects are constantly busy with something, most of them work directly for the benefit of people. One of these “hard workers” is the fireman beetle. This is a cute creature with a bright and memorable appearance. You can learn more about its role in nature and development features in this publication.
Origin of the species and description
The fireman beetle is a medium-sized insect that got its name from its original appearance, which includes red elements in its coloration. Quite often, this animal is confused with other beetles, calling soldier bugs, onion rattles and bee bugs firefighters. However, these are all completely different insects with their own habits and external features.
Video: Fireman Beetle
Biologists also call firefighter beetles red-legged soft-bodied beetles. This is due to the bright burgundy color of the legs of the beetle and the absence of a chitinous cover. The elytra of insects are very flexible and soft. Therefore, people believe that firefighters, like other representatives of soft-bodied animals, are more likely than others to be attacked by other animals, predators. But it's not! These bugs can stand up for themselves.
Interesting fact: Unfortunately, the life expectancy of fire bugs is very short. For this reason, such animals are able to reproduce as early as four weeks after their birth.
The firefighter beetle is an insect of the soft-beetle family, the order Coleoptera. It is quite easy to recognize this creature. His head is decorated with small antennae, very thin, resembling strings. These tendrils are constantly in motion. There is a dark spot at the top of the head. It is on it that you can distinguish the fireman beetle from other beetles. The body is rectangular, elongated. Adults rarely grow more than 1.5 centimeters in length. The belly is painted in a bright burgundy color.
Firefighter beetles are commonly found in gardens and are beneficial to humans. They effectively exterminate a huge number of pests. However, sometimes the population of such beetles grows very large and it becomes necessary to exterminate them. Fire bugs do not have to be poisoned with poison, thereby polluting your own garden. Such insects can simply be collected by hand. But this method is relevant if the beetles have not yet had time to breed very much. Otherwise, you can flavor the plants with a mixture of cheap tobacco and wood ash.
Appearance and Features
Beetle a firefighter is a rather striking representative of his family because of his very original appearance.
You can distinguish a fireman by the following external features:
- original body color. The elytra are painted black, the abdomen and legs are brown or bright red. From above, the animal is very reminiscent of a fire truck, from which it got its name;
- the average size of the body. The body has a slightly flattened shape, has a soft structure. There is no strong, hard chitinous coating. The length usually does not exceed 1.5 centimeters. From above, the body is densely covered with hairs;
- retracted head. There is a dark spot near the head. This is a characteristic of a firefighter. There are antennae on the head. They consist of eleven joints;
- soft wings and tenacious paws. The wings completely cover the back, painted in a dark gray shade. The paws are colored red, they are quite strong and have small claws;
- the presence of gender differences. In particular, females are always larger than males. Their pronotum is decorated with a symmetrical spot. This spot has an individual shape for each beetle. This makes them unique;
- the presence of mandibles. The mandibles are slightly curved and very sharp. With their help, the beetle can pinch painfully. Mandibles are used by insects during hunting. The fireman beetle is a predator. It attacks small insects.
Where does the fire bug live?
The appearance of the fireman beetle always attracts the eye and arouses genuine interest in adults and children. Such an insect cannot be overlooked in the warm season. Usually it is found in gardens, vegetable gardens, and other places where garden plants grow. Especially their population is huge where raspberries and currants grow. Fire bugs don't really like attention. When a person approaches, they try to quickly leave their place.
Interesting fact: Fire bugs are invaluable benefits. They exterminate a huge number of pests. But there is also harm from such insects. Firefighters can damage certain types of horticultural crops, garden plants.
The fireman beetle is a ubiquitous insect. It is found wherever there is a cold or temperate climate. But the main requirement of these beetles is the availability of suitable food for them. There are a large number of fire bugs in Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and many other countries.
Soft-worms multiply rapidly, but do not live very long. For life, these insects choose cultivated places. They can be found wherever there are plantings of fruit trees, raspberry bushes, currants, gooseberries. They also prefer to live in vegetable gardens. Small populations of such insects are even welcomed by gardeners. This is not surprising, because firefighters help get rid of caterpillars, aphids, mosquitoes, midges and other pests.
Interesting fact: The fireman beetle is a safe and highly effective means of getting rid of cockroaches. In order for the Prussians to leave the living quarters, you need to send a few firemen there and leave them for a while.
Now you know where the fireman beetle is found. Let's see what it eats.
What does the fireman beetle eat?
Fire bug, despite its “softness”, it is a rather formidable predator. This insect has very powerful jaws. It is these jaws that enable the beetle to deftly absorb small insects.
The daily diet of a firefighter includes:
- small caterpillars;
- sleepy flies;
- larvae of various insects;
- small Maybugs (those species that feed on leaves).
Looking at the diet of the beetle, it is easy to figure out that he prefers to eat only those insects that which are much smaller than its own size. In addition, victims of firefighters often have a soft body structure. This predator cannot cope with too hard chitinous cover, even with the help of its powerful jaws. The beetle avoids such insects.
The hunting process of the fireman beetle begins in the air. He looks out for his next victim even during the flight. Having found a suitable insect, the firefighter lands in close proximity to him or even directly on the animal. Next up are the jaws. The fire beetle plunges them into its prey, releasing a poisonous substance in the process. One portion of the poison can significantly soften the tissues, so the further process of absorption of food is quite easy.
In the larval stage, the fireman beetle eats a little differently. Its diet consists mainly of small worms and centipedes. Beetle larvae find such food right in their habitat – in rotten stumps, in old trees. For this reason, it is highly recommended not to remove stumps and old wood from the garden. In the future, fire bugs will be of great benefit.
Character and lifestyle features
In appearance, the fireman beetle evokes only positive emotions. But the harmless appearance hides a real predator. Beetles-firefighters spend most of the day hunting. They track their prey in flight, then grab it with their powerful jaws, bite, and, after exposure to poison, consume it. In warm weather, firefighters can often be seen on various plants. There they not only bask in the sun, but can also have a snack. Insects gnaw only the fleshy parts of plants.
Fire bugs lead an active lifestyle. During the day they fly a lot, love to land and sit for a long time on plants, grass, flowers and fruit trees. These insects are attentive and have a good reaction. If an object approaches, they instantly take off into the sky. If it did not work out, the insect can pretend to be dead. To do this, it draws its paws under itself.
Interesting fact: You should not try to pick up a fireman's beetle. He bites very painfully and releases a special odorous substance on his offender. The insect has sharp teeth, powerful jaws. The bite is rather painful.
Squishy larvae spend their day differently. They live on fallen leaves, in soil or old wood. They hibernate under the roots of trees, buried deep in the soil or under the foliage. The larvae have three pairs of legs, so they move easily and quickly. With the help of powerful jaws, they make their way, making tunnels in the tree. Little firefighters feed on centipedes, worms. Outside the shelter, the larvae appear very rarely. The only exception is the period of active snow melting. The larvae crawl out to escape the melt water.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Soft-worms mate only when warm weather sets in. The sun should warm the air and the soil well. Usually the period of procreation falls on the summer – July. First, females and males break into pairs, then mate. After some time, the female lays her eggs in the substrate. It should be soft and warm. For this, leafy litter on the soil, decaying plants, stumps, wood debris, rotten branches are ideal.
To ripen, the eggs need some time – from fifteen to twenty days. The period of incubation largely depends on the air temperature. After maturation, larvae are born. Outwardly, they are very reminiscent of beads. The larvae are completely covered with hairs. They are small and have three pairs of legs. Fire beetle larvae are very cute and interesting. The larvae of the beetle develop rapidly, but at this stage they live quite a long time.
Firefighter larvae, like adults, are predators. They eat small worms, centipedes. Also very interesting is the fact that the larvae are inherent in digestion outside the intestines. How does it happen? Extraintestinal digestion consists in the use of a special substance, poison. The larva injects this poison directly into the body of the victim, it almost instantly dissolves the tissues of the prey. Then the larvae just need to suck in liquid food.
Closer to winter, larvae pupate. But only a part of the larvae turns into pupae. The other part simply hibernates in its shelter. In spring, the pupae turn into caterpillars and crawl out. Furry caterpillars are called “snowworms”. Then, with the onset of heat, young fire bugs appear.
Natural enemies of fire bugs
The fireman beetle is a unique creature. Despite his modest size and very soft body structure, the firefighter successfully resists natural enemies. The thing is that in nature the bright red color of the body indicates a great danger. Predators, birds and other animals try to bypass such beetles, preferring easier and safer prey.
Why is the fireman beetle so dangerous to other animals? The red color in the color of this insect indicates its high toxicity. This is the case. In case of danger, a fireman bites painfully and releases a special poison into his offender. For many animals, this poison can be fatal, for others it will bring a huge number of health problems.
Only rarely are birds of prey, some amphibians, attacking fire beetles. They can also become prey to domestic animals. The most dangerous enemy of firefighters is man. When these beetles multiply rapidly, people resort to their extermination through various methods. In the fight against firefighters, both humane and deadly methods are used. The thing is that too large a population of these insects can cause significant damage to plants, bushes and trees.
Population and species status
The soft-boiled family is one of the most numerous. To date, it has about four thousand beetles, among which fire beetles are considered one of the most common. The “red” beetle is widely represented in various parts of the world. It is found wherever a temperate or even cool climate persists. It is impossible to determine the exact number of such beetles. However, according to the latest data, the population of this species of insects is not threatened even by the minimum probability of extinction.
The number of firefighters in the natural habitat is unstable, but numerous. Instability usually appears when people destroy these insects in vast agricultural lands. However, even this does not threaten the total number of firefighters. These beetles do not live long, but successfully breed. From year to year, they are rapidly increasing their numbers.
Firefighter beetles are dangerous only in case of overpopulation. When their population in one place is small, then such an insect can be of great benefit. It effectively destroys small garden pests. Firefighters eat caterpillars, aphids, various beetles, mosquitoes. This is a safe and absolutely free “remedy” for protecting trees, bushes and plants.
The fireman beetle is a bright representative of a large family of soft beetles. This is a unique creation that looks very much like a fire truck. This insect, subject to a normal population, can be of great benefit to gardeners and gardeners. It eats almost all the most common pests, while itself does not cause significant harm to plants.