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Discovering beetles abroad to protect trees at home

Discovering beetles abroad to protect trees at home
Credit: The Coleopterists Bulletin

Not every child gets a bark beetle named after them. Then again, not every kid has Michigan State University entomologists Sarah Smith and Anthony Cognato as parents.


The duo discovered two new beetle species in Southeast Asia, which they named and announced in the September issue of The Coleopterists Bulletin. (A coleopterist is someone who studies beetles). The diminutive beetle species—they’re roughly as long as a nickel is thick—are both reddish brown and dotted with little spines.

“That’s why we named one after our son, Lorenzo,” Smith said.

“He can be a little prickly,” Cognato explained.

The beetles both belong to the Acanthotomicus genus, with Lorenzo being the namesake for the newly christened Acanthotomicus enzoi. The researchers named the other new species A. diaboliculus, derived from the Latin for “little devil,” just in time for Halloween.

Behind these playful names, however, is a serious motivation for

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