長臂金龜的前腳為什麼那麼長

        不管你有沒有看過台灣長臂金龜(Cheirotonus macleayi),都應該認識一下牠。因為牠不僅是台灣最大型的甲蟲,也是保育類昆蟲之一。目前已知屬於長臂金龜亞科(Euchirinae)的種類共有3屬12種。牠們的雄蟲都有很長的前腳,如台灣長臂金龜大型者約有6公分的體長,前腳展開將近10公分,雄蟲爬行時就像我們穿上超大號拖鞋那般的不自然;雌蟲的體長雖與雄蟲相差不大,但前腳長度不及雄蟲的一半,因此雌蟲在樹幹上爬行的樣子還算正常。
        雖然雄蟲平常因為那對前腳而動作慢半拍,但若在樹幹上遇到其他雄蟲時,牠可是一點也不好惹,會突然變得兇猛並展開激烈的對抗行為。就像鍬形蟲雄蟲以大顎挾住對手、拉起牠丟到地上般,長臂金龜利用細長的前腳將對手的身體挾起丟下,真不知牠的前腳如何能使出這麼大的力氣。不過仔細觀察不難發現,會鬥個你死我活的,多半是體型相當大的雄蟲。換句話說,前腳大致同長的雄蟲才會產生爭鬥,當前腳長度差異明顯時,在展開前腳的第一回合中,勝負已見分曉,腳短的一方只能默默離開,以避免必輸的局面。
        原來長臂金龜雄蟲的超長前腳和獨角仙雄蟲的頭角相同,不只是雄蟲間用來鬥爭的武器,更是用來避免毫無勝算的戰事的試探性利器。不僅長臂金龜、獨角仙、鍬形蟲之類如此,雙翅目中的槌頭蠅科(Diopsidae)也是如此。該蠅的頭部可向左右明顯伸出,複眼長在伸出部的末端,使整個身體呈T字形。目前已知約有300種槌頭蠅分布於熱帶亞洲、非洲,在台灣至少有畢格氏突眼蠅(Teleopsis bigotii)一種。此蠅身體呈黑褐色,體長5~6公釐,多生活在林床的草叢中。兩隻成蟲相遇時,會頭碰頭,比一比頭寬,伸出部分長者得到勝利。有意思的是,槌頭蠅的雌蟲也具有T字形的頭部。是否雌蟲間有爭雄的情形,至今不詳。
與它類似的還有夏威夷特產的一種黃果蠅Drosophila heteroneura,雄蟲體長約1公分,算是黃果蠅中的大型種。頭部沒有像槌頭蠅般向左右伸出的突起,但整個頭部向前後呈扁平狀,頭部比胸部寬約0.4~0.5公分。兩隻雄蟲碰面時,會以頭寬一決勝負。
        談到長臂昆蟲,不得不提及分布在中南美的長臂天牛(Acrocinus longimanus),此種天牛的雄蟲體長6~8公分,但竟有長達15公分的前腳,牠不只靠著前腳在雄蟲間爭勝,交尾時更以前腳緊緊捉住雌蟲。由於長臂天牛不論雌、雄蟲,背面都有左右不對稱、呈多角形的雲狀紋,故有hurricane beetle的英名。
話題再回到長臂金龜,由於牠是保育類昆蟲,在沒有特別許可下是不能採集的,牠的棲息地也被列在保育區內。近年飼養竉物的風氣盛行,寵物店中常可見到外國產的活體的金龜、鍬形蟲之類,雖然我沒見過外國產的長臂金龜,但萬一引進後因故被牠逃逸,並在野外繁衍成功,很可能成為台灣長臂金龜生活資源的競爭者,導致台灣長臂金龜的保育工作功敗垂成。在一般的概念中,長臂金龜、鍬形蟲是幼蟲取食朽木、腐植質維生的腐食性昆蟲,對農作物幾乎不構成威脅,因而對牠們的引進採取較寬鬆的態度。其實從保育的立場來看,生態習性類似的昆蟲常是保育類昆蟲最大的隠型殺手。因此我們必須特別留意外國產昆蟲引進及飼養的問題。(本文版權屬作者所有,請勿轉載!)


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