Small insects attack and kill amphibians much bigger than themselves

May 20, 2011
This image shows the predation of amphibians by an adult Epomis beetle. Credit: Gil Wisen and Predation of amphibians by adult Epomis

New findings of researchers from Tel-Aviv University show that predator-prey interactions between ground beetles of the genus Epomis and amphibians are much more complex than expected. The study was published in the open access journal Zoo Keys.

"Amphibians are typical insect predators and their diet may include adult beetles, ground beetles in particular. The recently filmed successful attacks of the beetles on toads and frogs brought new insights on the amphibian-insect interactions, and documented the uncommon phenomenon of invertebrates preying on vertebrate animals," said the senior author Gil Wizen.

Previous research has shown that Epomis feed exclusively on amphibians and that this is essential for completion of their life cycle, while the diet of the adult beetles consists of terrestrial invertebrates as well as dead vertebrates. Wizen and Gasith's current study shows that adult Epomis beetles can prey upon live amphibians, in addition to their regular diet.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Wizen and Gasith's current study shows that adult Epomis beetles can prey upon live amphibians, in addition to their regular diet. Credit: Gil Wizen and Avital Gasith

According to the study, the genus Epomis is represented in Israel by two species: E. dejeani and E. circumscriptus. In the central coastal plain these species have similar distribution but do not occur in the same sites. The researchers recorded Epomis sharing shelter with amphibians during the day, but preying on them during the night. In the laboratory, predation behaviour of the adult beetles on five amphibian species was observed: the Green Toad (Bufo viridis), the Savignyi's Frog (Hyla savignyi), the Levant Green Frog (Rana bedriagae), the Banded Newt (Triturus vittatus), and the Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra infraimmaculata). These observations showed that the diet of the two Epomis species overlaps only partially, with only one of the (E. dejeani) preying on the Banded Newt.

The results of this study serve as additional evidence that Epomis beetles, both larvae and adults, are specialized predators of amphibians. Moreover, these prey upon several .

Explore further: Risk-taking behavior depends on metabolic rate and temperature in great tits

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Toad task force

Apr 06, 2011

An army of volunteers will be wading into ponds across the UK this spring to map the spread of a killer amphibian fungus.

The beetle's dilemma

Jun 26, 2007

Large jaws are efficient in crushing hard prey, whereas small jaws are functional in capturing elusive prey. Researchers have suggested that such trade-offs between “force” and “velocity” could cause ...

Recommended for you

World's first microbe 'zoo' opens in Amsterdam

11 hours ago

The world's first "interactive microbe zoo" opened in Amsterdam on Tuesday, shining new light on the tiny creatures that make up two-thirds of all living matter and are vital for our planet's future.

Study shows how chimpanzees share skills

12 hours ago

Evidence of new behaviour being adopted and transmitted socially from one individual to another within a wild chimpanzee community is publishing on September 30 in the open access journal PLOS Biology. This i ...

Little blue penguin back at sea after hospital stint

17 hours ago

Wildbase Recovery Community Trust ambassador and Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie joined Massey University veterinary staff to release a little blue penguin back into the sea at Himatangi Beach this morning.

User comments : 0