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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fire Loving Beetles

 The fire beetles, Melanaphila, are metallic wood borer beetles who are attracted to fire. The beetles has special infrared sensors in their antennas that are far more sensitive than any man made device. These beetles can sense heat and smoke from over fifty miles away. They swarm to freshly scorched landscapes or sometimes backyard grills. The male and female beetles are charcoal black and mate on burnt logs. The female fire beetle lays her eggs on these freshly burnt logs sometimes she will even burn her feet off trying to lay her eggs as soon as possible! Being the first insect on the scene after a disaster has some advantages. When the grubs hatch there are few competitors or predators. The grubs feed on dead and burnt wood, they are detritivores, a type of decomposer, and they don't harm living trees. After a year of breaking down dead matter in a recovering forest, the grub goes through a metamorphis and flies away as a beetle in search of a forest fire. Scientist study these beetles in conjunction with firefighters to try to design a device that can sense fire as well as these fire beetles. These tiny creatures have much to teach!

1 comment:

  1. That is fascinating! I am relatively new to Arkansas, and am totally captivated by the insects I've seen. I'll have to read up on this one. Actually, all the plants and animals here are captivating. Thanks for sharing this story.