Three insect experts from Montana State University will be spending from late June to early August engaged in a multi-national search for some extremely rare beetles that can help explain some of the evolutionary relationships on the insect tree of life.
Although not overly confident in the success of the mission, with one entomologist involved in the trip stating, “We will be lucky if we get three of the 25 things we are most interested in,” they have planned an action-packed itinerary that will take them from the United States to Italy, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Korea, with talk of a trip to Borneo being included.
Their search includes following a map drawn by Czech entomologists who once found an “extremely weird-looking” beetle in India, replicating the search conducted by an Italian entomologist conducted in 1973, talking to vendors in Malaysia who sell beetles travellers on buses, and a variety of other unlikely sources. For Mike Ivie, the search is merely a continuation of over 20 years of searching for “things every beetle person knows about, but nobody has.”
The search is funded in part by the National Science Foundation, who has initiated a US$3 million project called the “Beetle Tree of Life.” Researchers from several institutions in a number of countries have received funding from the NSF to try and help figure out how all the beetle species are related to each other, and there is some “friendly competition” in the search.