|Flat headed Borer Grub|
|Left: Bess Beetle--Right: Flat headed Borer...no relation|
Soon after discovering the flat headed borer, John discovered a black beetle. Like many insects that live through winter, beetles turn the water in their bodies into glycerin which acts like an antifreeze so they don't freeze solid in winter. Therefore, this beetle moved as if in slow motion. I spent all day trying to identify this beetle. There are more beetles species than an other creature on earth, over a estimated 350,000! Many species are likely still undiscovered. Upon first glance I thought this was a stag beetle but they are only found in their adult form during summer. Then I guessed species of ground beetle, but its furry legs, distinct face, and unique antennae told me otherwise. Finally I identified it as a Bess beetle (Odontotaenius disjunctus).Bess beetles live in communities inside logs and communicate using over 14 different clicks, squeaks, and kissing sounds. Because insects do not have voices, all these sounds are made by rubbing their wings against their abdomen. Larva also makes sounds by rubbing their tiny legs against their soft bodies.
In most cases, insects lay eggs and never wait around for the larva to hatch. However, Bess beetles not only wait for the eggs to hatch but they feed their young, protect the larva, and stay with them as they pupate and go through a complete metamorphosis. Both male and female Bess beetles care for their young, feeding them premasticated wood. In the insect world it is almost unheard of for males to tend to their young, in fact, it only occurs in one other beetle species and in termites.
|Bess Beetle (Odontotaenius disjunctus)|
If it weren't for decomposers we would be up to our ears in rotting goo. Luckily, the earth recycles everything in a beautiful and efficient way; and the decomposers that we can thank for this are not as gross as you might have originally thought.