I saw my first Palo Verde beetle for the year.
These are large, glossy black, spiky looking insects, about three inches long not including their formidable antennae. They are gentle creatures, though, despite their looks, and rarely eat anything besides a bit of fruit nectar during their roughly month-long adult lives.
When Palo Verde Beetles hatch, they start out as large, six inch or longer larvae that live and burrow inside tree roots. Once they pupate, they emerge from their root burrows and bumble around looking for a partner, laying their eggs just before monsoon season, to start the whole cycle again.
My sighting occurred outside the laundromat. It was about midnight, and I saw a shiny black beetle trundling along the gritty pavement, occasionally trying to fly. She wasn’t hard to miss, being about the length of my thumb. Every time she took off the breeze would knock her down again, usually into a solid object like a window. Undeterred, she kept going. By the time I came out with my laundry, I saw she’d made it quite a ways – farther than I’d expected. I paused a moment, watching her run her beetle errands, wishing I could communicate with her so I could give her a free lift.
Making that wish gave me a thought. What if there were other beings observing me that were as much more advanced from me as I am from this beetle? What if they understood something of my life, as I do with this beetle, but couldn’t communicate? What if they in fact wished to help me out but there was no common ground between us? It made me think about myself, the value of persistence, and what purpose meant to me. It was a lot to get from watching a beetle.
Palo verde beetles may look scary but there’s a lot to learn by watching these silly, bumbling creatures. It’s amazing that they’ve been around for this many millions of years.
I guess they’re doing something right!