National Geographic : 2001 Feb
Jewel scarabs wear evo lution's disguises well, and we relish trying to reveal them. Blanketed by a sweet gum leaf, C. karschi(left) clings for its life in excellent camouflage. Reflections from a stunning drop of silver (below) might con fuse predators. How can we not wonder if the rear end CHRYSINAKARSCHI.1 .2 IN THE ROLES OFA LIFETIME The sleek adult jewel scarab (bottom) has modest begin nings. Beneath or inside rotting stumps and logs, females lay several dozen eggs before severing family ties. Once hatched, worm like grubs, or larvae (curled, above right), burrow into the wood compost and feed on cellulose-which they digest with the help of sym biotic bacteria and fungi in their guts. Grubs develop for a year or more, then form chambers in the wood and transform into pupae (center). When the rainy season begins in May, we see adult scarabs emerging, still soft bodied and pale. Within hours, bodies harden and the jewels show their true, often splendid colors. We estimate that these scarabs live for as many as three months in the forest canopy, feeding on leaves, reproducing ... and hiding.