Archive for March, 2021

Stories from the Museum Floor

In this week’s Story from the Museum Floor Visitor Team member Piotr continues his fascinating exploration of the intersection between Entomology and early film making through the pioneering work of Władysław Starewicz.

Check out the first part of the story here. And for more on our entomology collections have a look at the Curator’s blog.

Out of the real world he created the world of fantasy

When World War I started in the summer of 1914, Russia was separated from the rest of Europe by the German frontline. Since foreign films were unavailable, there was a huge demand on the local filmmaking industry. The so called Skobelev Committee got the monopoly on producing war reels, but the same organisation also established a fiction film department. Film directors working for the studio were given exemption from military service, which may have been the reason why Starewicz joined the Committee…

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Stories from the Museum Floor

In this week’s Story from the Museum Floor, Piotr from the Visitor Team explores the fascinating intersection between Entomology and early film making through the pioneering work of Władysław Starewicz.

For more on our Entomology collections please take a look the Curator’s blog.

Back from the Dead

Another year has passed and the Paper pumpkins, grinning at us as they hang from the trees are now several months behind us. Back in the Halloween season of 2019 we had a very successful screening of The Nightmare before Christmas  here at the Museum in our Living Worlds gallery. Conceived and produced by Tim Burton, and directed by Henry Selick, this 1993 classic has been attracting new audiences and enjoying a  cult following since its first release, more than 27 years ago. What I am also sure of is that probably very few people will wonder where and how it all…

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To celebrate the 2021 Year of the Ox in the Chinese calendar, we have chosen the Ox Beetle (Strategus aloeus) as a star object from the Manchester Museum’s Entomology collection. It is a species of the rhinoceros beetles from the family Scarabaeidae from the Americas. The male Ox Beetle has three characteristic horns on its thorax, two at the back and the longer one at the front, resembling Triceratops. This species is also called Elephant Beetle, Hercules beetle or Escarabajo Buey (in Spanish).

Male of the Ox Beetle. © Julián-Caballero C. Camilo

Adults of the Ox beetle can grow up to 2.5-3.8 cm long and live four to six months only. They feed mainly on various fruits and flowers, and are very active during the breeding season from May to November. Interestingly, the male Ox Beetles have two varieties, “major” and “minor”. Major males have three large horns on the thorax used for mating competitions. Minor males have shorter horns. Female Ox Beetles have a small raised area (a very short horn) used mainly for digging, not for fighting. Females lay their eggs in rotten wood or roots on sandy soil, with dried leaves sometimes added to maintain the right temperature and secure hatching.

Female Ox Beetle from the Entomology collection of the Manchester Museum. © The Manchester Museum

Larvae or grubs of Ox Beetles feed on roots with their powerful mandibles. Larvae are about 5 cm in size when curled, double if straightened. The larval stage takes about 4-6 months to develop into a pupal stage and almost a year to develop into an adult. Pupation may be affected by weather conditions, but this stage can be shortened when maintained in warmer environments (for example, when bred in captivity, for a manual see here).

This species is the largest and most common beetle found in the south-west part of the USA, from Arizona to Florida. It occurs throughout Central America and in parts of South America (especially in Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil).

Records of the Ox Beetle in the Americas; based on Naturalista Colombia.

Larvae of Ox Beetles are considered pests, causing damage to plantations and gardens. For example, in Colombia, larvae affect recently planted oil palms due to the use of large amount of decomposing material as part of the planting process. In Mexico, larvae can affect new plantations of Blue Agave, Agave tequilana, a key ingredient of tequila. However, adults and larvae of the Ox Beetle also play a vital role in recycling organic matter in tropical ecosystems.

More information and resources:

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