Platychile pallida (Fabricius 1801)
Individuals of the monotypic genus Platychile occur on sandy beaches along the coast of Namibia and South Africa. The sole species, Platychile pallida, is an active forager at night but during the day retreats under kelp or into burrows along the high tide line. Kensley (1974) reports that these adult burrows are about a centimeter and a half deep.
At night, the adults forage along the low beach along debris lines and are principle competitors of juvenile Tylos sp. (Isopoda: Oniscidea) as both feed on animal matter, including washed up Physalia (Kensley 1974).
Prins (1984) notes the robust carabid beetle Acanthoscelis ruficornis (Fabricius, 1801) preys upon Platychile adults. If accurate this encounter must be quite the fight!
Arndt (1998) described the all larval instars of Platychile. The larvae are slender with an elongated and weakly sclerotized body. Of particular interest the abdominal hooks of Platychile larvae are shifted away the center of the fifth abdominal segment and located closer to each side. This is faintly visible in one of Arndt’s figures (reproduced in Handbook of Zoology, Vol. IV).
Johan Christian Fabricius described this species in his 1801 work Systema Eleutheratorum from material collected in southern Africa; however, he placed P. pallida in the genus Manticora. W.S. MacLeay established the genus Platychile in 1825 and placed P. pallida into this distinct genus. While at least five other species, subspecies, or variations of Platychile have been described each has not withstood scrutiny and P. pallida remains the only valid species in this unique genus.
Choate (2008) notes that P. pallida is a candidate for protection. I cannot find any further information regarding the threats to either habitat or population numbers. Other mentions of this species protection are confined to passing mention in drafts of South African protected species lists.
There is a photo of a live Platychile adult on flickr – you can find it here.
Arndt, E. 1998. Larval description and natural history data of two genera of tiger beetles from Southern Africa (Coleoptera, Cicindelidae). Entomologische Blätter für Biologie und Systematik der Käfer. 94(1): 33-44.
Arndt, E., R.G. Beutel, and K.W. Will. 2005. Carabidae Latreille, 1802. [pp. 119–114.] In: Handbook of Zoology. Volume IV. Arthropoda: Insecta. Part 38. Coleoptera, Volume 1: Morphology and Systematics (Archostemata, Adephaga, Myxophaga, Polyphaga (partim) (R.G. Beutel and R.A.B. Leschen, editors). Walter DeGruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin, Germany.
Choate, P.M. 2008. Tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Collyrinae and Cicindelinae) [pp. 3804-3818]. In: Encyclopedia of Entomology. 2nd Edition. (J.L. Capinera, editor) Springer.
Fabricius, J. C. 1801. Systema Eleutheratorum secundum ordines, genera, species: adiectis synonymis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. Impensis bibliopoli academici novi, Kiliae. 2 volumes. 506 + 687 pp.
Kensley, B. 1974. Aspects of the biology and ecology of the genus Tvlos Latreille. Annals of the South African Museum. 65: 401-471.
Macleay, W. S. 1825. Annulosa Javanica, or an attempt to illustrate the natural affinities and analogies of the insects collected in Java by Thomas Horsfield, M. D. F. L. & G. S. and deposited by him in the museum of the honourable East-India Company. Kingsbury, Parbury & Allen. London. xii + 50 pp.
Pearson, D. L. and A. P. Vogler. 2001. Tiger Beetles: The evolution, ecology, and diversity of the Cicindelids. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 333 pp.
Prins, A.J. 1984. Morphological and biological notes on some South African arthropods associated with decaying organic matter II: the predatory families Carabidae, Hydrophilidae, Histeridae, Staphylinidae and Silphidae (Coleoptera). Annals of the South African Museum. 92: 295-356.