BUG story ! Tell ya in a minute ! Meanwhile … do you like this little chap ?
Yep – he’s a beetle ! (definitively NOT a cockroach !!!) But this was a re-education for me.
Yesterday my Lady Wife noticed something that looked like a stone or a fallen chip underneath a table in our room in a pleasant holiday hotel in Devon. She picked it up and put it on piece of paper, and left it for me to see. It DID look like a kind of beetle, but it was completely motionless and seemed to have no legs. We carefully turned it over, and its feelers seemed to be tucked in and stiff, so we thought, sadly, it must be dead.
What to do ? Put it in the bin ? It seemed somehow disrespectful. And … did I imagine it, or did that feeler just move a tiny bit ? No – must have imagined it. A couple of hours later, the seemingly inanimate pod was still there, and I resolved to get it back, dead or alive, to its natural habitat. Meanwhile I’d made a pretty positive identification the Internet. It was definitely a May Bug. Now – I should have known. As a kid I had seen May Bugs on a warm Spring evening, buzzing about noisily like small helicopters. They made you nervous because they gave the impression they might crash into your head. But they never did. They must have good Radar ! Although they might seem scary, they’re completely harmless. So I made a pouch out of newspaper, and carefully put the piece of paper with the beetle on it in the pouch, ready to transport it safely to its place of rest. As I did so, again I had the impression that perhaps a leg had moved a fraction of a millimetre ? Holding the pouch, I headed out of the hotel towards a safe place in the bushes. As I went out of the door, I felt a sharp bump in the pouch.
So I made a pouch out of newspaper, and carefully put the piece of paper with the beetle on it in the pouch, ready to transport it safely to its place of rest. As I did so, again I had the impression that perhaps a leg had moved a fraction of a millimetre ? Holding the pouch, I headed out of the hotel towards a safe place in the bushes. As I went out of the door, I felt a sharp bump in the pouch.
Reaching the bushes, I unfolded the newspaper with some excitement. There, was my pal sitting on the page, all arms and legs and feelers deployed, apparently ready to party !!! He was clinging on, and for a while I wondered if I was going to have to leave the newspaper there. But as I started to tear out the page, my May Bug started out purposefully for the edge of the paper, and then smoothly strode on to a leaf underneath. He was free !! And looking good ! As he crawled off into the undergrowth I felt a warm glow of pride in my rescuee.
These May Bugs, otherwise known as Cockchafers, are a charming species that inhabited the British Isles long before we did. They are a valuable part of the eco-system, their wriggly white larvae providing a favourite food for rooks and other corvids, who are very skilled as finding them in the grass. Since we share a name, perhaps I feel I have a special connection. So if you encounter one please give it my best and try to ensure its well-being. But who knew of this special behaviour ? Playing dead ? Perhaps an ancient survival strategy ? Maybe the signal to break cover was me putting him in the dark in the pouch ? How do I know he was a boy ? Boys apparently have seven strands to their ‘fans’ at the end of their feelers. Girls have six. Who knew ?!
I didn’t have my camera handy when he came back to life, but he looked very much like this picture in from a nice insect website — www.wildlifesafari.net.
Thanks guys !