Beetle from Colombia and Nicaragua is Tiniest Free-Living Insect

Posted on October 8, 2015

Scydosella musawasensis

A minute beetle from Colombia and Nicaragua is the world's smallest free-living insect. Precise new measurements have ended debate over the size of the insect.

The beetle, Scydosella musawasensis, was first described in 1999 when several specimens were found in Nicaragua. 85 more specimens were found recently at Chicaque National Park in Columbia. The smallest of the tiny beetles measured in at the 0.325 mm.

The beetle is a yellowish-brown color and has an elongated oval body. The beetle also has a 10-segmented antennae. It is the only known representative of its featherwing beetle genus.

The news survey is the second record of the tiny beetle species. The survey also found that insect has a wider range than previously thought. The insect feeds on fungi.

The measurements were made by Dr. Alexey Polilov, Lomonosov Moscow State University Moscow using the insects collected in Colombia earlier this year. Dr. Polilov used specialized software and digital micrographs to measure the tiny beetles. A research paper can be found here in the journal, ZooKeys.

Photo: Dr. Alexey Polilov