Wax Secretion and Color Phases of the Desert Tenebrionid Beetle Cryptoglossa verrucosa (LeConte)

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Science  26 Jan 1979:
Vol. 203, Issue 4378, pp. 367-369
DOI: 10.1126/science.203.4378.367


The desert beetle Cryptoglossa verrucosa(LeConte) exhibits distinct color phases that range from light blue to jet black when subjected to extremes of low and high humidity, respectively. The color phases are created by "wax filaments" that spread from the tips of miniature tubercles that cover the cuticle surface. The meshwork that accumulates at low humidity reduces transcuticular water loss and may lower the rate at which body temperature rises under a radiation load by increasing reflectance.