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The fascinating Curculionid tribe Pachyrrhynchini

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pachyrrhynchini.jpg The tribe Pachyrrhynchini (Brachyderinae, Curculionidae) is one of the very fascinating and perhaps the most striking beetle species that can be found in the Philippines. A profusion of elytral markings, exuberant colors and hues from the deepest blacks to almost gem like qualities and metallic luster that adds to the fascination. Wingless, these group of beetles are also masters of survival ensured by its very tough and inflated elytra, fused at the sutures, that acts as its main protection.

Another notable characteristic of this group is the way mimicry has been practiced. In a given locality, different species belonging to different genera of the tribe has almost the same markings and elytral designs. Species of the genus Doliops (Lamiinae, Cerambycidae) always have a Pachyrrhynchus model. And in one very rare encounter that I had during one collecting trip, I was almost fooled when what I thought to be a small Metapocyrtus was in fact a small spider!

While it is present in other islands beyond the country, it is safe to say that a good 95% of species are endemic here. These beetles generally are found in most islands but especially at the higher, mountainous elevations of primary or secondary forests. To some extent, cultivated areas sometimes harbor this group but kind of scarce. As for the distribution, Luzon seems to have the most number of species and variations while Palawan, geographically part of Sundaland and based on published literature, is not so rich in species.

While this group is really striking, like most Philippine Coleoptera, it is not studied in detail. The only exhaustive references that treats this tribe was accomplished by W. Schultze, assigned at the Bureau of Science in Manila from around 1910 – 1930s, when he published his monograph in a series of articles at the Philippine Journal of Science. Of course, Waterhouse, Heller (Schultze’s contemporary) et al described the earlier species but he was the only one who organized this wonderful but challenging group.

I was able to secure a 1934 paper of Schultze wherein he has descriptions of new Pachyrrynchini species but after that, I have not encountered other literature that deal with new descriptions or revisions except to hear about one published in the 1940s but don’t have a copy. From there, its a blank.

During the years I have been collecting this group, it seems that many of what I have are new to Science. Unfortunately, with the dearth of new literature, availability of type specimens (Schultze’s types stored at the Bureau were totally obliterated during World War II and one has to refer to collections found in European museums) and the inherent difficulty of identifying even described species because of the sheer number of variations and similarities, I feel that it would really take time and the effort of very dedicated entomologists to finally bring order to this diverse group of beetles.

  • Paul

    Dear Stan,

    I keep on working on all this, I keep on…


  • Paul, its nice to hear from you again!