Many of our foresters are probably thinking about it. A team of Italian colleagues and Jakub Horák from our Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, ČZU in Prague, worked with this hypothesis. I can tell you right at the beginning, that it was not researching the snack of the gamekeeper, woodsman, or the forester…
The study covered two species of „forester“ beetles – Cucujus cinnaberinus and Cucujus haematodes. These are saproxylic beetles with an extremely flattened body, a triangular head and large eyes. The term saproxylic, means that the species is bound to dead wood, lives in it and occasionally feeds on it. It has a lot in common with our field, because the forester's livelihood also comes from wood.
The research focused mainly on whether it is possible to raise beetles in an artificial laboratory environment, what food they prefer and how well their reproduction will go.
Larvae and adult beetles captured in the wild were used in the research. Species that could be prey in the wild were used as food in the laboratory, such as Rhagium inquisitor, Ips sexdentatus, as well as species commonly fed in the laboratory, Tenebrio molitor and Lucilia sericata.
The results of the study confirmed the authors' hypothesis that Cucujus beetles are not true predators, as the vast majority chose dead food. The developmental stages of the beetle did not play a major role in the research of food preferences, because both larvae and adults chose very equally. The reproduction success rate reached 85%, which is a very decent number. In this study, artificial breeding of beetles proved to be a method that can prevent the extinction of endangered species.
In conclusion, we can say that our forester from the world of beetles will prefer rotting wood, a piece of a good corpse, but he does not like to eat a living mate.
Teresa Bonacci, Mattia Rovito, Jakub Horák, Pietro Brandmayr, Artificial Feeding and Laboratory Rearing of Endangered Saproxylic Beetles as a Tool for Insect Conservation, Journal of Insect Science, Volume 20, Issue 5, September 2020, 20
doc. Ing. Jakub Horák, Ph.D.
Jakub Horák is a forester and teacher at the Department of Forest Protection and Entomology. He has participated in a large number of projects and publishes regularly. In his scientific works and publications, he focuses, among other things, on saproxylic beetles.
Prepared by Václav Kinský
* The “foresterl” is a literal translation from Czech of both the name of the beetle species and the colloquial expression for an employee in the forest.