Beetle (Sand scarab beetle) Pericoptus truncates
Species: P. truncatus
Binomial name: Pericoptus truncates
Common names: Ngungutawa, Sand scarab beetle, Large sand scarab, Mumutawa
Pericoptus truncatus is the largest of the New Zealand native scarab beetles. It is a sand beetle found above the high tide mark coastal sand dunes from through out New Zealand. The larvae, pupae and adults are common amongst the roots of marram grass and under or within driftwood.
It is a stout beetle with powerful legs and a short blunt horn just behind the head. The adult beetle buries its self in the sand during daylight hours, emerging at night to wander or fly around in search of mates and food. Mating flights occur between November and January. The trails of the adults nocturnal wanderings are visible in the sand early in the morning.
The female beetle lays eggs deep in the sand. The moderately soft, white larvae are cylindric and look like giant grass grubs. Their body is moderately soft, but the head and claws are decidedly corneous. Their leg design is called "fossorial" meaning they are digging adapted. This design is also seen in many dung beetles. Larvae can be found living up to 1.2m below ground feeding on the roots of dune grasses.
Pericoptus truncates is threatened in Northland by the exotic Scoliidae wasp, the yellow flower wasp, Radumeris tasmaniensis which parasitises on larvae. The female stings and paralyses the scarab larva and lays eggs on it. The wasp larva then slowly consumes the paralysed beetle larva.
The larvae have been observed at night emerging from their burrows and covering themselves in salt water and sand near the low tide mark, before they return back to their burrows, it is though that they do this to remove parasites.
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