A closer look at newly discovered salagubang species from Davao 2
Pachyrhynchus obumanuvu (left) and the Metapocyrtus salesi. Photos courtesy of Dr. Ann Cabras and Dr. Anthony Sales

PH is home to over 7K types of beetles—here’s a closer look at newly discovered species from Davao

Something you could watch out for next time you go trekking in the mountains of Davao
ANCX Staff | Nov 20 2021

When it comes to insects, no one can beat the beetle—or the salagubang—when it comes to number of species. You probably encountered a few of these critters as kids while making them wrestle each other, or when you sampled them as exotic cuisine up North.

There are actually 400,000 species of salagubangs inhabiting the earth according to National Geographic.  They’re found in all continents except Antarctica. They can live both in wet and dry places and come in various sizes—some are too small to be seen; others are too large as to fit in a human hand.

Pachyrhynchus obomanuvu
Pachyrhynchus obomanuvu. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ann Cabras

Salagubangs are unique and colorful, which make them among the favorites of scientists all over the world. They feed on plants, manure, and also on dead animals and humans. 

About 7,000 types can be found in the Philippines, and over 400 are found in the Davao Region alone. Despite this, it seems many more are out there just waiting to be discovered. “It feels like every time we go into the field, we discover at least one new species,” Dr. Analyn Cabras, a coleopterist, once told NatGeo.

In fact, our scientists have recently come across three new fascinating “easter egg” beetle species in the Davao region. They come in such beautiful iridescent colors and eye-catching prints you’d think an artist painstakingly painted them.

Metapocyrtus salesi
Metapocyrtus salesi. Photo courtesy of Dr. Anthony Sales

The first type of weevil is the “Pachyrhynchus obomanuvu,” named in honor of Davao City’s Obu Manuvu tribe. These are distinguished for their dark burnished red color and greenish markings reminiscent of the Obu Manuvus’ traditional garments. They were discovered in the mountainous regions of Mindanao, particularly in the ancestral domain of the Obu Manuvu in the western side of Davao City, said Dr. Milton Medina, director at University of Mindanao’s Institute for Biodiversity and Environment. Medina was part of the research group that discovered the new beetle. 

The “Metapocyrtus salesi,” noted for their black and pale green markings, was named after Dr. Anthony Sales, regional director of the Department of Science and Technology Region XI—this is in honor of his contribution to the advancement of the research.

Metapocyrtus (Orthocyrtus) davaoensis
Metapocyrtus (Orthocyrtus) davaoensis. Photo from DENR Davao's Facebook page

The third beetle is the "Metapocyrtus (Orthocyrtus) davaoensis." Unlike the other beetle species, this one was discovered in an urban area of Davao City, specifically Calinan.

According to Dr. Cabras, the said beetles are non-flyers. “Hindi sila makapunta sa ibang lugar ng madalian. If matatagpuan lamang sila, sa Mount Apo, most likely doon talaga sila matatagpuan,” she said in an interview with TV Patrol. The beetles are also difficult to find. “You have to be very, very careful,” Cabras told National Geographic. “If they sense you coming, they fall to the ground.”