Well, I’m glad it didn’t bite me on the ***e instead.
What am I talking about, I hear you asking? Sometimes I ask myself the same question. No, I have been quite pro-active about preserving nature and the environment recently. I would have thought that my stance on such matters would have filtered out into the wider world by now: apparently it hasn’t.
At least, it hasn’t as far as one particular beetle was concerned. Now, I always worry when I see a butterfly, moth, wasp, bee or the like, stupidly squatting on the road. Normally I pick them up and move them to safety, although butterflies are incredibly thick and tend to fly right back to the lethal tarmac again. Wasps or bees never sting me when I lift them: in fact wasps seem to enjoy licking the salts from my skin.
All in all, then, these acts of kindness are generally well received by the invertebrate population. I thought that my gentle administrations would be equally well received by a stunning beetle that I saw struggling across the car park of the local supermarket yesterday. I picked it up and the b***ard tried to bite me on the finger. Still, we all have our off days. I put it on a credit card and dropped it off in the grass verge.
Here’s a picture of one of its mates: not the bloody minded individual that I picked up because I didn’t have a camera at the time. I was fascinated by it because I hadn’t seen one before. It turns out that its a Sexton beetle, named after the old position held by someone who maintained a cemetery. They’re fascinating insects which work as a couple to dig under an animal corpse, burying it for their young to feed on. They exude a fungicide to stop the carcass smelling, so that it does not attract competition. They clean the carcass of fur or feathers with which they insulate their underground home. If the body is too big for one pair to handle, others come to assist and they all live in a commune under the body…fascinating.
It still tried to bite me and I’m not even dead yet…ungrateful little beetle!