Another place to add to the list of beetleful hikes in the SC upcountry: Eastatoe Creek Gorge. Katie and I spent the day meandering and beating our way slowly down this trail. In fact we spent so much time collecting that we never quite made it to the bottom before we had to turn around. That just means we'll have to go back.
The irresistible allure of Spring in the mountains apparently caused many little hearts to go pitter-patter. Courtship and coupling were the order of the day. Hispine leaf beetles were happily mating on their host plants in the sun.
While the trogids were overcome by the intoxicating aroma of coyote dung.
There were numerous other exciting (but unphotographed) finds throughout the day, including a male Platycerus (a small stag beetle), a 'nest' of Galerita under some loose bark (large blue and orange ground beetles, which make quite an impression when 8 of them scatter in all directions!), and a large buprestid (Dicerca, I believe) that landed on a tree trunk in front of me while I was standing on the side of the trail gazing off into the gorge.
Among the most interesting catches was a single individual of Valgus (a small scarab). While these are generally reputed to be associated with termites, this one was in an ant colony, in fact being carried around by the ants. While this may have just been an anomaly (it was a rotten stump, and there may well have been termites nearby), ant- and termite-associated beetles do seem to evolve back and forth from time to time, and experiments with alternate hosts are likely the way such changes happen. Hard to tell if this inscrutable beetle was thinking 'Hmm, I liked it in there' or 'Thanks for getting me out of there'.
Finally, a beetle that turned out not to be a beetle. This moth fooled me into thinking it was a net-winged beetle until I got a little closer.
Compare to the distasteful model species on BugGuide: Calopteron terminale.