Based on the original experimental results from stimulating the infrared radiation sensors of Melanophila acuminata (DeGeer) (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), it has been concluded that the sensors function at forest fires by protecting beetles from hazardous conditions associated with a flaming environment while swarming, mating, and ovipositing on heated, exposed tree roots. The beetles are renowned for their rapid flight and for their exceptional dispersal capacity resulting in such a wide distribution that they come upon fires randomly. Thus, a case is made here that the infrared radiation sensors of M. acuminata and, presumably, other species in the genus, evolved not for distance perception of fires but for enhanced reproductive activities at them. An examination of the literature has revealed a long-standing interest in distances of perception of forest fires by the sensors, during which time increasingly longer distances have been claimed in various publications. These distances, however, cannot be accepted because there are no calculations supporting them, but just as important is that all of them, ranging up to 100 km in length, far exceed distances obtained by application of the inverse square law of physics where the intensity of radiation of a fire is inversely proportional to distance.
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Vol. 103 • No. 6