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Psyche
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 921465, 5 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/921465
Research Article

Predatory Behavior of Canthon virens (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae): A Predator of Leafcutter Ants

1Laboratório de Insetos Sociais-Praga, Departamento de Produção Vegetal, Faculdade de Ciências Agronômicas, UNESP, P.O. Box 237, 18603-970 Botucatu, SP, Brazil
2Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, UNESP, 18618-970 Botucatu, SP, Brazil

Received 28 October 2011; Accepted 11 December 2011

Academic Editor: Jean Paul Lachaud

Copyright © 2012 Luiz Carlos Forti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

We present a detailed description of the predatory behavior of the beetle Canthon virens Mannerheim, 1829, on the leafcutter ant Atta sp. We observed 51 acts of predation, which were also recorded on film and subjected to behavioral analysis. Canthon virens exhibited 28 behaviors while predating upon Atta sp. queens. Adult beetles search for queens while flying in a zigzag pattern, 15 to 20 cm above the ground. After catching a queen, the predator stands on its back and starts cutting the queen cervix. Once the prey is decapitated, the predator rolls it until an insurmountable obstacle is reached. The distance from the site of predation to the obstacle can vary widely and is unpredictable. The beetle rolling the queen also buries it in a very peculiar way: first, it digs a small hole and pulls the queen inside, while another beetle is attached to the prey. The burial process takes many hours (up to 12) and may depend on the hardness of the soil and the presence of obstacles. In general, one or two beetles are found in a chamber with the queen after it is buried. They make the brood balls, which serve as food for the offspring. This study contributes to the knowledge of the predatory behavior of Canthon virens, a predator poorly studied in Brazil and widespread in the country.