Diversity: the things that creepeth under foot

The world is full of amazing creatures and when it comes to the order Coleoptera (Beetles) their number and diversity are astounding!

~ HINT ~

Underlined portions in today’s post will take you to more, and interesting information!

We all know the Ladybug as an old favorite of childhood.  We sang little poems about them,  played with them, collected them in critter cages, and, sorry to say it, often loved them to death…   Poor Ladybugs.

Recently, I read about a woman who uses Beetles as art expression and room decoration.  She does it by creating a three-dimensional “wallpaper” for her clients.  Honestly, from the distance the work looks lovely.

02Full-pattern

Click either image to be taken to Fiberarts Magazine, and the photo’s source

03Thorny-female-detail

I keep imagining that they might get a bit ‘gamey’ in hot and/or humid weather.  Hm…

Yesterday, Bob came in all excited about a giant beetle he found outside.

“Its huge and has giant pincers!” he said.

I confess,  that I never did grow out of my bug loving phase from childhood, and so I made him take me to go and see it.

He was a handsome specimen too!  One and a half inches of burnished mahogany from the tip of its pincers to the anterior of its wing casings.  Carefully picking it up for a closer look, I then marveled at its ferocity and strength!  I took him inside and placed him into the bottom of a plastic container.

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He landed on his back and couldn’t move.  I made several attempts to assist, but the container was too slippery, and onto his back he’d return.

He was definitely out of his element, and for all his strength those grappling hooks on his legs couldn’t find a foothold to help him upright. Instead, they were getting hooked onto his legs and binding them to himself!

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I crumpled some paper and put him onto that.  Success!

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Watching him crawl around in circles became disheartening, so I took him outside and set him free.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think he is beautiful.

The sudden movement caused him to take a defensive stance.  I tried to move him off of the paper and onto the leaves, but he would not budge.  I picked him up and carefully removed the paper from his grip…

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At which point he grappled himself, again, and just lay there.  I left him to sort it out and went online to find out more about my visitor.

~ NOTES ~

He is a Stag beetle, Lucanus elaphus to be exact, and can be identified as a male by his larger pincers.  He uses them for establishing dominance (competing with other males), and taking a fierce stance to ward off predators.  They can pinch, but are not harmful.  The females have pincers as well, but they are much smaller by comparison.

The largest Stag beetle is about 11.938 centimeters (4.7 inches) while the smallest Stag beetle comes in at about 1 centimeter (or 0.39 inches)

Stag beetles are forest recyclers.  They lay their eggs on decaying wood and the larva help to return it to the forest floor.  The grubs, depending on the variety, can remain in the wood for up to seven years, however the beetle itself is short-lived at only one to two years.  The grubs for this variety take only one year to develop from grub to beetle.

In England, the Stag beetle is considered an endangered species.   Due to the loss of the beetle’s natural habitat, they have begun placing rotting logs in parks and backyards to help them regain their numbers.

~ MY THOUGHTS ~

We often find creatures in our environment that can look alarming to us, however, each animal or creeping thing on this earth has a niche to fill, and a job to perform.  Many such creatures are maligned and destroyed simply out of fear or ignorance.  I encourage you to find out more about what scares you in the wild of your own back yard.   For I am certain that you will be amazed at the jobs they perform, and at their efficiency in the performance of their jobs.

 

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60 thoughts on “Diversity: the things that creepeth under foot

    • Lynda says:

      LOL, OK, I will give you that some species are truly self serving, but often as not, the things we dislike are useful. I have read that dust mites keep us from living in piles of our own flakiness, and without flies and vultures we would be knee deep in dead things.

      YUCKY? You bet, but I wouldn’t care for the alternative. URG… 😛

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Sorry girls, but mosquitoes are a MAJOR source of bird/animal food, like: (barn, cliff and tree) swallows, purple martin, bluebirds, bats…
      It wreaked havoc on these populations when overreaction to the West Nile Virus resulted in spraying programs for mosquitoes…
      Yet another unintended consequence on Life’s interrelationships.

        • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

          You’re welcome – just lookin’ at the sunny side… (Gotta admit it’s not always easy with !?!£€ biting insects; )
          Oh, and AWESOME bug art too btw… Freeze-dried maybe? (Otherwise? REALLY gross!!: )

      • galleryoftheheart says:

        Ancient Egypt worshiped the Beatle as a mystical creature. When I was a child in my early years, (3ish), I used to play with them. I couldn’t wait to sit on the curb and see them. I would hold them in my hand. I would let them crawl on me. Just the same as any furry animal. That’s when I was still connected and grounded. I had no fear. My mom who always instilled fear In me as a child one day found out and told me I would be harmed and get sick if I continued to play with them, my ten year old sister agreed. Her exact words were…. gross! To this day I have not been able to overcome feeling fear of any and all insects. Before I was taught fear, I saw the world in I think a more humane, better way.

        • Lynda says:

          You are not alone in this fear. When I was teaching I loved to include a unit on insects. Often there were several students that refused to touch the “bugs.”
          Watching their parents around our specimens was quite revealing and often gave a clear signal as to where my student’s got their attitudes about them. 😉 In almost every case, watching the other students working with them helped them to conquer their fear.

          I am sad that you are fearful of insects. Perhaps some day you will overcome your fear, but for now, just try observing them in their environment… no one says you have to touch them to enjoy them.

          • Lynda says:

            They certainly did, Steve! I recall wanting to see one of their movies and my mother agreed to take me…

            We got there and she could hear the screaming going on in the theater from the sidewalk out front. I don’t recall her exact exclamation, but it was definitely in the negative about going in to see the movie, and she took me right back home.

            Of course, when “Help” finally came to TV they ran it on the Late Show and I was really excited to finally be able to see it! It was so boring I fell asleep. 😉

    • Lynda says:

      I missed out on that treat, Tom. I never encountered any of them in Southern California. Ladybugs, pill bugs, butterflies, giant grasshoppers, and the mysterious Ant Lion’s traps were the usual fare out west.

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    BOY he sure is fierce looking and very cool too, thanks for the great article Lynda! Can’t wait to check out these links on the big screen (computer; ) Luckily a lot of these beneficial are so tiny, we don’t even realise they’re there. Pretty sure I read somewhere that a human being’s body weight is only actually about 75% us (please don’t quote me on that number; ) with the rest being our microbiota of “support staff”, LOL!
    We have old dead/dying trees here that we’ve left standing just because they’re home to tons of cavity-nesting creatures like Woodpeckers, Owls, Tree Swallows and Purple Martins; not to mention all the others, like your little armoured buddy here, that no one even sees…
    Thanks for readjusting my focus (yet again; )

  2. Penny Keach says:

    I do agree with your final statement up to a point, Lynda, but I have to leave out the cockroach. I really don’t see any good they do other than provide employment to lots of Orkin men and pesticide manufacturers…
    Happy Fourth, by the way!!

    • Lynda says:

      I can think of a few animals that eat the larger roaches. My chickens for example, and opossums for another. Those creepy little german guys… well, not so much!
      Happy fourth to you too!

      BTW, today is our 5th anniversary of our arrival here in Alabama too! 🙂

  3. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    I’ve never heard of stag beetles and found your post most interesting.
    Thanks for sharing the info and photos

    • Lynda says:

      Glad you liked it, Victoria. I wasn’t sure if the content wouldn’t creep everyone out, so I’m happy to get your positive feedback!

  4. Littlesundog says:

    I once found a very strange, but dead specimen in our woodlands. It had a pair of very large mandibles, somewhat like your Stag beetle. I have a photo of it somewhere, and at the time I did discover what type of insect it was. Turns out it is a very common woodland insect. Who knew? I’m like you… I am always curious and interested in these odd specimens. It’s a big world out there… so much to learn!

    • Lynda says:

      Yes it is, and yes there is, Lori, and I would like to see your photo of your large mystery insect too! This was a fun post for me because I learned something while I was researching and writing it.

  5. dogear6 says:

    We had one of those show up on our deck several years ago. I was glad I saw it before the dogs did – I did not need the vet bills from someone checking it out with their sensitive nose and getting nipped! It had fallen into the cracks and couldn’t get out. I got a butter knife, flipped it back onto the deck and watched it scuttle off. They are HUGE!

    Nancy

      • dogear6 says:

        I couldn’t stand to kill it, when all it did was put itself in a position to get sniffed at by a dog. But the butter knife gave me sufficient distance without damaging it just in case it wanted to snap at me! But oh, I couldn’t imagine those tender noses by those pincers.

        • Lynda says:

          HA! Nancy, I actually tried to get that fella to grab onto the tip of a chopstick and he would have none of it. He just remained frozen in his attack position looking fierce. I read that it is a ploy to scare away predators, and that their pincers are only used against other males in a display of dominance. OK, well, their is one other use for them. They use them to hold on when mating. 😉

          Still, I’m with you! I wouldn’t want to test them with my fingers or my dog’s noses!

  6. Animalcouriers says:

    Love stag beetles – they do such a wonderful job. They’re not nearly as common as they were though in the UK which is sad and worrying. Have found one four inches long and that one I left very much to itself 😉

    • Lynda says:

      If we all did our part to protect and recreate habitat for the endangered creatures, then I am certain that it would benefit us in ways we can’t yet imagine!

      I think I would not be so quick to pick up a four inch Stag beetle myself! I did see some up close in Costa Rica that could snap a pencil with their pincers! And wouldn’t you know… I lost that can of film while I was there.

    • Lynda says:

      I abhor the lack of respect many people give to our four footed friends, Evil Squirrel.
      I’m with Vivian: “If you [kill] it, eat it!” (please see the rest of her comment)

  7. http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com says:

    Lovely stag beetle. They were becoming rare because of destruction of habitat but seem to be on the up again, thank goodness. That wallpaper – though pretty – is an abomination if she really used live/dead insects..

    BUGS

    If you squash it, eat it!
    People kill without thinking
    at the drop of a hat.

    A black speck crawls across the floor.
    A Monty Python foot stamps down,
    bam! Sent to eternity in a smear
    of flesh. Why? What could it do to you?

    The impulse to kill is irresistible.
    Is it done out of fear?
    or diverted aggression –
    insect or fellow human?

    That black speck had a right to life
    just like you or me.
    Will you eat it? No. So let it be.

    • Lynda says:

      Vivian, I am sorry to report that the wallpaper is real bugs. They were surely thankful, for the progeny’s sake, that this is probably not going to catch on with the general populace. The average person is just too squeamish to live with such a thing!

      On a happier note I think your poem was lovely! Thank you for sharing it here.

  8. chatou11 says:

    You are right Lynda, people are afraid of what they don’t know about.
    What a sweet rescue, you did all your best Lynda, that’s great.
    Sorry Lynda but I hate this wall-paper with all insects.. I supposed some have been sacrificed to make the design!
    Thanks for your very interesting post.

    • Lynda says:

      Don’t be sorry about the wallpaper hate, Chantal, because you are in good company! Several friends have voiced their opposition to this strange creation, or as some feel, abomination.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you!

  9. shoreacres says:

    I’d not want to live with that wallpaper, for sure, but it did remind me of the fellow I wrote about who made his “paintings” from carefully collected pollen. I suspect the wallpaper’s a self-limiting project. No one is going to do that for their whole house, and there can’t be many people wanting to make the stuff. There are bigger dangers to the insect world. Still, it’s pretty … awful. 😉

    I saw something on my trip to the hill country I’d never come across before – a dung beetle. I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye, and there he was, rolling his little ball of dung (or mud, or whatever) along the ground. It seemed rather purposeful. I watched for about ten minutes, while he covered about two feet. I hope he wasn’t going far!

    I’m going to have to look up antlion and see if it’s what we call doodlebugs – the ones that leave little cone-shaped traps for the ants. What an amazing world there is out there!

    Oh – and I found a dead ladybug out by the bird’s water dish today. She’s lying on a rock on a side table right now, until I get tired of her.

    • Lynda says:

      Yes, the wallpaper is quite strange, Linda. Did you know that your dung beetle was rolling the dung ball home to lay its eggs in? True! Oh yes, and the Ant Lion is the same as the Doodlebug! We seem to have quite a colony of them in the soil under the awning at the side of the cabin too! They certainly are fierce little creatures! I just read that they pupate and become a form of damsel, or dragon fly.

  10. LB says:

    okay … YES to your final thought: I am only one of two people in my office who pick up bugs, spiders, etc and put them outside. It kind of surprises me that level of fear and antipathy people feel towards insects.
    Now ticks … and the lyme disease they pass along. Another story.
    but … NO to the wallpaper.
    🙂

    • Lynda says:

      Yeah, the paper is over the top. My top bugs to hate are roaches, brown recluse and ticks! I am now able to keep the Brown Recluse, and “Palmetto” bugs out of the house, but still find the occasional tick… and lately they are usually on ME! However, I will be back in the wars when we move. There are an inordinate amount of Brown Recluse in that old cabin!!! Scary. Glad you are a bug saver, LB, even the spiders serve a very big purpose in life.

  11. Virgil Burns says:

    It’s two falls out of three for the guy in the mahogany trunks. Stag beetles have the rich finish of fine, old woodwork and the nightmarish mandibles of man-eating monsters. They also have all the athletic grace of bulldozers, which is why they spend a lot of time flat on their backs, treading air, totally helpless. Is this wrestling match a fake? Not on your scissors hold! It’s for the loving cup. And where is she? Bet she got tired of waiting around and went stag.

    • Lynda says:

      Virgil, I just found you in my spam filter and I have no explanation for it. I’m sorry.

      As for your comment, well, you certainly have a wonderful imagination! Thank you for your hilarious and accurate vignette! 😀

    • Lynda says:

      Claire, I just found you in my spam filter. How does that happen?

      It is humorous, but we can’t deny the truth of it, no matter how unpleasant it may be. 😉

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