Thursday, October 16, 2014

Everything is Bigger in Texas

Isn't he something!
This is a male Ox beetle.
I think it should be called a Triceratops beetle, but the bug people didn't ask me.  
I suppose it's possible that this creature was named before the discovery of dinosaur fossils.
I digress.
The female has no 'horns'.
The males will actually use those horns in battle for the affections of a female beetle.
She will then lay several eggs in rotting wood or leaf litter and then go on her way.

photo credit: http://feralbiologist.blogspot.com/

The larvae spend the winter growing and eating wood, plant roots, and leaves.

They're pretty extraordinary creatures all in their own right.
Funny, I don't mind holding an adult beetle, but holding the larvae is not something I want to do.
I'm weird.  
I know.


These beetles are considered beneficial insects.  They are among the many beetles that assist in breaking down decaying/decomposing plant matter.
Their larvae however, are considered a pest, as they often eat plant roots and can cause the plant to die.  
Strange how that works.

I can see how their enormous size would put most people off, but they are harmless in every way. 
I will say that if you think having a June bug in your hair is a problem, then this beetle may not be your cup of tea.  
They are drawn to light on summer nights in the southern states from Florida to Arizona.
Oh, and they can fly! 
If you're standing around, shooting the breeze with neighbors in your driveway with the lights on, you may be in for a bit of excitement.  When they come in for a landing, it's much like having a Harrier jet come in nearby. 
Loud and with a thump.  
Lots of screaming and scrambling for cover usually follows.
Luckily, their landing spots seldom involve your hair.

The adult beetles are gone for this year.  They only live 4 to 6 months.
Only the larvae are alive.  
Growing, eating and waiting until it's time for them to fly next summer.