Insect researcher Dr V Shubhalaxmi Reddy spots rare longhorn beetle in Karjat

Insect researcher Dr V Shubhalaxmi Reddy spots rare longhorn beetle in Karjat |

A rare 12cm prionid beetle has been found in Raigad Forest. The discovery was made by naturalist and insect researcher Dr. V Shubhalaxmi Reddy, founder and trustee of the iNaturewatch Foundation. She found the insect on a farm in the village of Jambrung in Karjat. The last time she had seen the insect was a long time ago as a specimen at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in Mumbai.

Dr Reddy said the beetle was large enough to fit in a human hand. Native to India and Sri Lanka, it is only seen in the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, but it is not common to see it in Karjat.

Dr Reddy said: ‘The first thing most of us do is look at the sky when it’s raining. But the slightest rain is enough to wake up a whole new world under our feet. A variety of insects come out during the monsoon, and this is the time when we see rare insects.

Scientifically called Acanthophorus serraticornis, this particular insect is the largest of the long-horned beetles. It is usually seen when it is raining and is attracted to light. “His presence in Karjat shows that a good balance in nature exists here,” Dr Reddy said, adding that his previous sighting was recorded in Pune.

The male prinoid longhorned beetle is larger than the female with large jaws which are used to fight the rival male. The adults feed on rotting wood, while the larvae are wood borers, boring into the trunks of red silk cotton, mango, mulberry, and sal. They are considered pests in monoculture plantations, but in the wild they are rare.

Dr Reddy said it was easy to label an insect a pest because there is a conflict of interest; however, we are responsible for having served a buffet to these insects by planting food plants in large numbers in the same place.

“This bug made me take time out of my routine work to research it,” she says.

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