Who's afraid of the big bad beetle?

I'm not afraid of bugs.

Okay, that's a lie. I'm afraid of bugs that can hurt me providing they're in a bad mood (wasps) and I have an irrational fear of venomous spider bites. And then the usual list of bugs that give me the heebie-jeebies - earwigs, silverfish, and centipedes.

But there is a kind of bug that I absolutely loathe. Let me tell you about them.

Illustration of a June beetle, which has parts labelled "BROWN", "Dumby dumb dumb", "Hooking hooks", "distended undercarriage"

June bugs are a particularly offensive largeish beetle that emerge for a few weeks to mate and lay eggs when the weather is right. That's the only good thing about them (and even that isn't so great, because once they're done propagating they all die and litter the ground with horrible dried-out husks.). As you can tell from the above picture (in which I have rendered an inaccurately cute June bug), every single bit of them is made with some sort of horrible.

Usually beetles can repent for their scurrying nature, horrific size, or dung-eating habits by at least having interestingly-coloured shells. Not so with the June beetle, which stubbornly maintains a dull and unappealing brown shell. In addition to its failure to appeal to any aesthetic sense, the beetle's brown shell covers only its head and folded wings, leaving its distressingly off-yellow body plain to be seen.

These unfortunate beetles look like they are ready to burst open on a moment's notice; their yellowed undersides seeming to bulge with the barely-contained pressure of their gooey insides. If you've ever hand the misfortune to step on a June bug, you'll know it doesn't take much pressure before the whole thing ruptures and spews an alarming amount sticky yellow goo all over your shoe. (And between the idiocy and the dying, it's often difficult to avoid stepping on them.)

In the early summer, perhaps while trying to enjoy a refreshing night breeze, you can hear the dull THWACK of June bugs bashing their idiot heads against buildings up and down the street. (Even when they're not flying into walls, they fly about with a distressingly noisy buzz.) These beetles are offensively stupid. Most beetles that are flipped on their back will readily accept a helping hand (er, twig)... except June bugs, which don't seem to have developed a knack for grasping. When finally righted, they will, as likely as not, forget to spread their legs properly and tumble sideways again.

The last bit of their hideous anatomy is their leg hooks. I don't know what purpose these hooks were intended to serve, but I know that in our modern world they do these creatures a disservice. Those hooks are amazingly efficient at getting tangled in long hair (I've experienced that one first-hand) and stuck in the mesh of screen doors. My least-favourite habit of these beetles is when they get their hooks stuck in a screen and then try to fly away, loudly buzzing and thwacking the screen with their wings. (When they're stuck, the best way to dislodge them is to flick them from the other side of the screen and send them flying away.)

They haven't been around this year.

We had an early warm spell followed by unusually cold temperatures, and I suspect this killed many of them off and prevented them from emerging. I've only see a handful of the creatures this year (and I've never been more thankful for climate change.).

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Who's afraid of the big bad beetle?
  1. Ewww they sound horrendous!! like a big flying zit, I don't think I would like one of those in my hair, my woman with head on fire comes to mind :)

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    1. Yeah, I was pretty young when they got in my hair... a bunch of us kids were running around outside after dark, and eventually we all ended up screaming and flailing about. When they're stuck in your hair, the only thing you can hear is BUZZZBUZZBUZZBUZZ.

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  2. I hear you. Bugs are gross. Beetles don't bother me so much as smaller, swarming bugs, like ants when they've found something sugary.

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    1. Every few years we'll have an outbreak of army worms - ugly swarming caterpillars. You'll just be walking in a park and look over at a tree and realize it's not *bark* it's covered with, but a huge swarm of wriggling caterpillars.

      Swarms are proof that there is no god.

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  3. Oh my god. I don't think we have June Bugs in Seattle. This is such a funny but right on article - I have no doubt ... well in fact, I'm already loathing ... that hideous brown shell! And man, you've spent some time studying June Bugs!!
    ~Melody

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    1. Ha, it's hard not to notice them... and I spent a lot of time trying to pry the darn things out of my dog's mouth... you get a good feel for what they look like!

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  4. This is probably going to seem odd to get a comment almost exactly a year after you originally posted this, but I found this image while trying to identify some horrid beetles that keep dive-bombing my front door whenever I turned my porch light on. My compliments on your drawing -- it really captures the look and feel of this guy.

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    1. One of their favorite hobbies does seem to be ramming doors and windows with their faces, so they're a good candidate for being your horrid beetles!

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