Sunday, July 3, 2011

Have you seen...

The face beyond the windowpane,
drawn to the light from within,
bumps noisily head to glass,

as I, on the other side,

peer carefully nose to glass,

drawn to the darkness of this night,

and look out to see who’s knocking.

This is a Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, and his fearsome appearance at your window on a balmy summer night might cause you to wonder what his intentions are.
Who’s he after with those long, elbowed antennae and over-sized mandibles?
He looks quite the brute.

Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus

Truth be known, although some members of the insect world are voracious predators, feeding like a wheel bug that sucks the juices from its hapless victim after injecting it with a powerful jab, stag beetles play more the role of decomposer. After hatching from an egg, the larval form, a fat, white grub, lives for 2 years in fallen logs turning decaying wood back into rich, dark soil, then over-winters as a pupa. In their adult form, although those mandibles could pinch defensively, stag beetles simply feed on the sap from trees, using the smaller finger-like appendages (palpi) to move food toward the mouth. His large jaws, resembling the antlers of a stag and in this case indicating that he is a male, are used against other males as they spar, much as do male deer, for the rights to a female. Any confrontation from a curious finger, and he will rear up and hold those awesome pincers proudly forward in defense.

Coleoptera, the order within the class of insects to which beetles belong, are so named by the combination of 2 Greek roots meaning “sheath-wing.” While some insects like butterflies or bees have 2 pairs of visible wings, the forewings of beetles are hardened and cover the softer second set of wings folded beneath them.

He’s perfectly suited for climbing, as well. Just look at those grapelling hooks at the end of his barbed legs.

Antennae with comb-like clubs scan the night air in his search for a female. Listen late at night as he taps against the glass. He’s just going about the business of beetles--he means you no harm.

"Have you seen...." is an effort to discover the unusual beauty in things not usually appreciated for their beauty.

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eileeninmd said...

Cool looking beetle!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Yep--once you get past that awesome set of jaws, he's a pretty cool character!

Julie Zickefoose said...

Any beetle who taps at your window is going to get a lot more than he bargained for. A photo sitting, a profile...maybe a snack...
You inspire me to dig out my photos of a bessbug laden with for those!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

No, kidding, Julie!
They're usually only detained for a day to get daylight shots,but I have been known to hang onto others (mantids & spiders) to watch them feed.
Snacks are provided.

A bessbug?
I see the stuff you find and know I walk past most of it.
Must keep an eye peeled for the 6 and 8-legged wonders!

Kelly said... post, Nina! I enjoyed it.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I made my SIL scream this weekend when I brought her a White-spotted Sawyer so she could see the tiny white heart on it's back. Neat beetle!

Guy said...

Hi Nina

Great shots of the bettle I found the final shot showing the antennae so well especially interesting. The information you supplied was great. I really enjoyed the post.

Thanks Guy

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