Body heat

posted in: Bugs, Invertebrates, My garden, Worcestershire | 0

The winter huddles are back!

The tiny Oxystoma pomonae seed weevils in my garden are starting to pair up (and sometimes trio up, if that’s an actual thing) and settle on tree buds and leaf axils to sit out the winter. I’ve posted these cuddling weevils so many times now that I fear I’m in danger of trying everyone’s patience, but what the heck – they’re cute, and tiny, and not especially easy to find or photograph, and I love them, and it’s my journal. So. Expect more.

The unusual thing about this pairing, which I didn’t notice until I got the photo up on a 27″ screen, is that it’s an inversion of the norm. Usually the lower beetle is a female and the upper one a male, but here it’s a male underneath and a female on top. You can tell that this is the case because he’s slightly smaller and has a shorter, thicker rostrum, while she is marginally larger, with a longer, narrower snout.

I’ve stated previously that these cuddles are to do with sharing heat rather than sexual activity, and this supports that point, but it rather confounds a personal theory I’ve had that the males might be sneakily combining a hibernation huddle with putting themselves in pole position for mating in the spring. However, I’m perfectly well aware that my sample here is on the small side (arf, arf), so to save any statisticians of my acquaintance pointing it out, I’ll say it myself: I’m going to need more weevils.

There’s more about Oxystoma pomonae here. And my second-favourite photo of the day has gone onto my Facebook page, if you’d like to see it.