A polished beetle shell

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!






via Daily Prompt: Polish


The really big bug


Tonight I decided to do laundry.  Normally this doesn’t involve any rescues or huge bugs, but tonight was different.  I was waiting for the washer to get done, when I heard some gasps and squeaks of fear and surprise come to me from over by the folding shelves.

There, lying on its back and struggling to get upright, was a truly HUGE beetle, about as long as my index finger not including the antennae, and shiny black.  Everyone was freaking out.  I watched it for a bit, saw it get to its feet, then sit there – barely moving.

One woman asked me to kill it.  I said “No way, then I’d have to deal with the body! ”  In truth, I neither had the implements nor the desire to squash this big bug, since it looked big enough to carve steaks off of.  I didn’t want to see bug guts in that quantity.

So I left it alone, where it sat there and did nothing while people around were wondering if it would attack them.  Finally a little Asian lady came in and asked “is that dangerous?” and I was driven to act.  Nobody else was, after all.

So I rummaged in a trash can, found a newspaper, tore off a couple big chunks, and gently prodded the beetle with one till he climbed onto the other.  He still was happy to hold still, so I took him outside well away from the light and left him on a bush.  All done, nobody hurt.  I went back in and finished the laundry, all the while thinking “wow, that’s the biggest bug I’ve ever seen!”


Upon further net research, I think the reason why it didn’t want to move is that it was a Palo Verde beetle, which is nocturnal and does much better in the dark.  It was probably disoriented in the bright lights of the laundromat.  Unfortunately, they aren’t the best of flyers and sometimes stray into areas where they didn’t intend to go.