These beetles are officially the laziest creatures on Earth

Illustration for article titled These beetles are officially the laziest creatures on Earth

The parents of the beetle species Eocorythoderus incredibilis must be so disappointed. All they ever wanted was for it to make something of itself... but instead it actually evolved a handle for unsuspecting termites to carry it around all day.


This recently discovered beetle species, native to Cambodia, has clearly come up with one of the sweeter deals in the animal kingdom, albeit completely at the cost of its dignity. These beetles have adapted to living inside the nests of the termite species Macrotermes gilvus, whose larvae have themselves evolved natural handles so that grown termites can carry them around, which allows the slow-moving larvae to reach their food much quicker.

These beetles have now horned in on that racket by tricking the termites to carry them to food as well. The beetles have developed chemicals that can imitate those secreted by the termite larvae, which entices the adult termites to pick them up. There has been a cost for this laziness (besides the aforementioned dignity). The species is wingless and its eyes are almost blind, meaning the beetle can now only survive inside the warm confines of the termite nest.


As you may know from our previous posts on codependent insect behavior, this is a textbook case of parasitic beetles invading the termite next. At least, it would be, if not for the fact that the beetles are so utterly lazy that they can't actually be bothered to do much by way of actual damage to the termite nest. Instead, they appear to be the insect equivalent of freeloaders, taking up space and enjoying the fruits of the termites' labor, but not actually hurting the termites beyond that.

For more, check out New Scientist, as well as discoverer Munetoshi Maruyama's original paper at Zootaxa.

Image from paper by Takashi Komatsu.

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looks like the vandals evolved handles.