|Black Oil Beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus) exploring my leg.|
Females are larger than males.
As you can tell - this isn't a very academic blog. I expect I could easily find out but haven't lifted an internet finger in search of an answer. I wasn't there to study military history or research nursery rhymes, I was planning a stuck-foot post.
|I thought this beetle would prefer to explore the grass|
or a leaf but it took a lot of persuading before it would
get off my shoe.
It wasn't going well though. The light was all wrong. There was an interesting mound of moss but it was throwing off white glints so detail didn't show. There were some flowering dead nettles - which are pretty but dark and they weren't coming out well in photos either. There were some flat white stones embedded in the bank like bricks and . . . and . . . what was that . . . that black thing which moved?
This is the thing with a stuck foot post; first you realise there's always much more in any place than you might expect; and sometimes you discover (or re-discover because it can be a perpetual surprise) that when you're looking for one thing it may take a few moments before you notice others you didn't expect - and having once noticed them, they may turn out to be there in numbers and suddenly they are un-un-noticable. So - if hadn't rooted myself to that particular spot I might never have seen . . . seen . . . masses of Black Oil Beetles (Meloe proscrabaeus).
|The round dots which look like rivets in a heavy metal beetle|
are the spiracles - through which it breathes.
|Laying eggs? Or waiting for the right moment?|
I may still know nothing about The Grand Old Duke of York - but did find out a little about the beetles. Having mated, each female digs burrows (maybe two or three) and lays eggs in them - up to a 1,000! When they hatch (generally a year later) they climb flowers and hang out with the pollen in wait for solitary, ground-nesting bees. ('Solitary bee' indicating the kind of bee which lives alone rather than one which is out on a mission by itself from its hive.) When one comes along (hopefully the right kind!) they climb onto its back and hitch a secret lift into the bee's burrow where turn into larva and eat the bee's eggs, pollen and nectar supplies. They pupate, turn into adult beetles, spend the winter in the bee's burrow and emerge in the spring to begin the cycle again - which is what they were doing when I came across them scurrying around in my stuck-foot post . . . and all along the bank below the hedgerow.
|Although these beetles are densely black,|
when the light falls on them in certain ways
they are of such a wonderful
blue its intense beauty is impossible to freeze.
What To Do If You See an Oil Beetle.
|A moth for a bonus!|
On the ceiling in my house.
March 30th 2014
Small Magpie Moth
Then, if you are in the UK you could report your sighting to the Oil Beetle Survey on the Buglife Site. (You register first - see top right hand side of the report sightings page.)
If you are in Scotland - click here - you may come across the rare Short-necked Oil Beetle.
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