| Blaps gigas (Linnaeus, 1767)|
| Taxonomical Classification: Animalia / Arthropoda / Hexapoda / Coleoptera / Tenebrionidae |
| Darkling beetle, Mealworm Ħanfusa tal-kantina|
| Further Information: |
Measuring between 3 and 4cm in length, it is one of the largest beetles in the Maltese islands. It has an elongated oval body that is completely black and possess slender, unspecialised legs. It can be found in shaded gardens but sometimes in open fields and places in close vicinity. It can be idenified from its large size and small linear projection at the end of its abdomen.
The beetle is unable to fly becasue its wings have been modified and moulded together into a hard protective shell, making it no prey to ants or parasitic wasps. However the lack of flight, its black colour and its rather cumbersome movement, makes it easy prey for some birds or large lizards, though it can emit a pungent substance when under distress
It feeds on decaying plants (and hence seen most in end of spring on wilting plants) by means of its special mandible mouth parts. Its role of rotating nutrients in dead grass back to the soil through their exreta is an important ecological role. Herbicides can be a major threat to these harmless beetles.
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