Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Devils Own Beetle

Just to show its not all birds and that we have other wildlife on the island including some fascinating insects that get overlooked with all the of the loud and big birds about. One beast we have started to see on the warm days is the devils coach horse - a large impressive type of rove beetle that carries a wicked reputation. Its dark, evil looks - a bit like a miniature Darth Vadar with jaws - means that it has a terrible reputation. Reputedly to be the devils own beetle, it is supposed to be drawn to sin like a wasp to strawberry jam and will point its tail at whoever it is going to curse. Maybe that is why I found this one the other day on Fluke Street which happened to be named after a red light district in Dundee (a long time ago I hasten to add)! Its vicious looks  and big jaws belie the fact that it mainly eats just earthworms, slugs and snails. If it really gets upset it can squirt unpleasant smelling fluid from its mouth and rear as a defence but usually it just threatens you by raising its tail like a scorpion. It does have wings but it mainly walks and rarely uses them. I like to think that this is because to put them away after use it has to fold them up so many times to fit them under its very small wing cases (elytra) that it just can't be bothered and walks instead.
So you see the little things can be just as interesting as the big things so it is worth having a second look at the small stuff around you.

Other insects that are keeping a low profile at the moment are the moths and butterflies. By now we are usually catching a whole range of moth species in the trap we set each night but so far we have caught just 3 moths - each small grey one called a hebrew character due to a squiggly blakc mark it has on its wings. A few butterflies have been seen on the very warmest days they most invertebrates are waiting for the weather to warm up a bit.

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