Only 2 percent of the 10,000 known click beetle species is known to be capable of emitting light. Now, researchers of a new study find a new bioluminescent click beetle species in the southwest forest of China.

New Click Beetle Species

A new addition to the click beetle family is a species discovered while on an expedition in western Yunnan in China back in 2017. Upon morphological investigation and molecular analysis, researchers also determined that the new species is not only a new click beetle species in a new genus, but it is also represents a new subfamily of click beetles.

“We chose the name Sinopyrophorus for the new genus, and the new subfamily is called Sinopyrophorinae,” said study coauthor Xue-Yan Li.

First Bioluminescent Click Beetle In Asia

Apart from representing an entirely new subfamily of click beetles, it is also the first bioluminescent click beetle discovered in Asia. Evidently, most bioluminescent click beetles are found in Neotropical regions, some of which can be found in small Melanesian islands, making this new discovery even more unique than it already is.

What’s more, the new species emits light from the abdomen alone, something that is done only by a few of the bioluminescent species. With all click beetles having three thoracic segments, the bioluminescent ones typically emit light either from the front segment or from both the middle and back segments.

With analysis showing that the new species is only distantly related to other bioluminescent click beetle species, it is very possible that there are more Asian click beetles to be discovered in the future.

Click Beetles

Click beetles are elongated insects that do not harm people and are known for the clicking sound that they make when they are making a quick escape from predators. The sound occurs when the stiff spine on the beetle’s belly side snaps with great force and propels the beetle far away from the predator. The snap is said to be so strong that it can bring a beetle stuck lying on its back to the upright position.

While click beetles pose no direct harm on humans, their larva called wireworms are considered pests to crops such as corn, wheat, and potatoes.

The description of the first bioluminescent click beetle discovered in China is published in the journal ZooKeys.

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