Giraffe Necked Weevil
Giraffe Necked Weevil: Found in the forests of eastern Madagascar near Andasibe and Ranomafana national parks the giraffe necked weevil is an endemic species with some very interesting characteristics. Despite its small size, about 2.5cm, it has the presence of an insect 10 times that, standing out with its bright red back and long neck.
The red colour on its back it called an elytra, which is a hard covering for its wings and opens up when the weevil wants to fly. The other distinctive feature of this insect is the length of its neck, hence the giraffe in its name. The neck of the male is 2-3 times the length of the female and is a similar length to its body. The purpose of the neck fighting with other males during mating season and to assist in nest building.
They live in the giraffe beetle tree and their diet consists of the leaves of this tree. They largely stay on the leaves but sometime fly between branches or trees.
Before breeding showdowns between males can be seen right through the forests on giraffe beetle trees with the winner mating with the female which produces a single egg. The battle to breed is not a fight to the death with the loser simply retreating to fight another day.
After fertilisation the female has a unique way of protecting the egg until it hatches. Before laying it she goes about the task of cutting the veins which make up one of the soft leaves of the giraffe beetle tree. Then using her powerful legs she folds the leaf in half and starts to roll it up before laying the egg inside and cutting to leaf free to fall on the forest floor. This forms a little cocoon to help protect from foragers.
I saw these weevils in both Andasibe and Ranomafana national parks. In Andasibe, my guide Herman, spotted a male on the edge of the forest resting on a leaf. With its distinctive long neck it was easy to tell it was a male. We managed to get within a few feet of it without disturbing it and I managed to get one very nice photo.