Saturday, August 8, 2009
Today we made a trip to Tennessee for our family vacation. We are sitting at the Radisson Inn in Nashville, and plan to spend a few days here. We will probably visit the zoo, and the Grand Ole Opry. Tuesday we leave for Townsend, TN where we rented a cabin near the Smoky Mountains. I hope the insect activity at the cabin is good. I plan to take lots of pictures, and post some Tennessee Insects soon.
Tonight as the family watches some crazy comedy show on HBO, I decided to take the time to post about some very large beetles that I found in a hollow, rotting stump in our backyard. I literally tore that stump apart to see what was residing inside it. My husband said he wished he had the camera to get a picture of me. I apparently looked like a crazed woodpecker on crack as the wood flew in all directions in my quest to see what was residing in what was sure to prove to be the ultimate critter hotel. I was excited to find some very large beetles, called Bess Beetles.
This stump contained each life stage of this beetle.
1.) Bess Beetle Grub
2.) Bess Beetle Pupae
3.) Newly emerged Bess Beetle ( they are reddish in color when first hatched from the pupal cell, later turning black)
4.) Close-up of the face
5.) Fully matured adult
Bess Beetles (Odontotaenius disjunctus) are found from the Central United States and eastward. They go by many different common names including Peg Beetle, Betsy Beetle, Bess Bug, Patent Leather Beetle, and Horned Passalus. They grow quite large and with that horn on their face they can look very intimidating, but they are not known to bite. These beetles have a unique life cycle, the female will lay eggs within rotting stumps or other decaying wood. Both adults will care for the young larvae. They feed their offspring bits of chewed up wood. It takes up to one year for them to complete their life cycle to adulthood. It is not uncommon for the adults to consume injured larvae. Both adults and larva are capable of making squeaky noises through stridulation, by rubbing their abdomen against their wings. This is a form of communication between adults. If handled they will stridulate loudly. Look for them in or near deciduous woodland. Adults feed on decayed wood or fungus. Larvae feed on the chewed up bits of wood and fungus the adults give them. Both adults and larvae will also feed on their own fecal matter. This is done probably to insure they have the proper intestinal parasites that they need to digest cellulose from the wood fibers they consume. If you want to find these beetles look for a rotten stump or rotting logs and tear them apart, you are sure to find some as they are quite common. If not, well perhaps there will be something else even better.