What'd It Say?

Patent leather beetle Posted by Hello

The handsome beetle above goes by a variety of names. Some people call it a Patent Leather Beetle, some call it a Bessbug, and still others know it as a Betsy Beetle. The scientific name is Odontotaenius disjunctus.

Betsy beetles munch away on rotting wood, digesting the little microbes within it. Several beetles may live together in a colony of sorts. They communicate with one another by "talking." If you pick one up (don't worry, they seldom bite) and hold it near your ear, you can hear the beetle speak. It is actually called stridulation and results when the beetle rubs its wing against its abdomen. The larva, or grub, can talk as well -- presumably communicating with the adult that cares for it.

One note about looking for things under and in logs: be careful where you put your fingers and ALWAYS return the log to its original position. Decaying wood, and the area under it, is home to a wide variety of organisms and some of these little micro-habitats have taken years to develop. So explore, but do it responsibly.


chryscat said...

He looks like a little patent leather shoe, doesn't he?
If I ever pick up a beetle, and it speaks to me, I'm running. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 dollars, and for Pete's sake...don't pick up another beetle.
The only wood I pick up is for the woodstove. There are snakes out here. And I'm thinking if I leave THEM alone, they'll do the same.

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

I have a bug phobia and this talk of picking up ones that talk doesn’t much help that phobia.

*shakes head in best eebie jeebies style*

swamp4me said...

Aw, come on Chryscat, you know it would be so cool to hear a beetle talk! And actually, snakes are one of the things I am looking for when I am out rolling logs *g*

Mr. B., you simply must work on these eebie jeebie responses! There is a facinating world out there just waiting for you. But, if it is any consolation, I'll tell you of my phobia -- COWS! They are big, scary creatures and I don't trust them. Snakes, bears, alligators...no problem. Cows? Run for the hills!!!

Keith, RN said...

For me, it's spiders and snakes that get me. I admire anyone who can handle such creatures with equanimity. As a nurse, give me an infected wound any time and I'm fine...funny what we learn to tolerate....

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

I'm not liking the cows either. I had a calf suck on my left hand one time and I can still envision the layer of slobber I received. But the butter we made on that field trip back in 1902 was tasty on the saltines, and surely would have won a blue ribbon.

*exits singing and skipping*

"Song sung blue
everybody knows one
song sung blue
every garden grows one..."

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

"Me and you
are subject to
the blues now and then..."

chryscat said...


It's a bovine world out here. I can spit and hit a cow. (So sorry for the visual)
They are everywhere. I prefer furry animals to scaly animals. Snakes, quite frankly, freak me out. I'm borderline on the beetle thing. I love ladybugs and butterflies. LMAO

Rurality said...

I think it's a big trick... you're really trying to get me to put a bug in my ear, aren't you?!

swamp4me said...

Now R, do I strike you as the kind of person who would try to trick you like that? *assumes innocent, angelic look*