While at an outdoor summertime party, the event was “crashed” with the arrival of this distinctive insect. I had never seen one previously and decided to investigate its life cycle and habits.
These bulky beetles grow to an inch-plus in length. According to a paper published in 1939, the adults “conceal themselves during the day in the crevices and hollows of trees, where they feed upon the sap that flows from the bark.”
It belongs to the genus Osmoderma (from the Greek osme—smell, and derma—skin). When captured, the beetles emit a very strong, but not unpleasant odor. Some say the scent is beetles smell “peach-like” or “plum-like.”
The scent is a pheromone that attracts females to the tree hollows where the males hang out and where eggs will be laid. The larvae reside in decaying wood, often in apple or cherry trees. They take three years to reach maturity, and are freeze resistant in the Winter.
They are one of the scarab beetles, with the typical scarab’s short antennae with a set of finger-like appendages at the end. This beetle was an unexpected guest that certainly added to the festivities.
Third Eye Herp
This organism was quite abundant and frequently seen on my quest for Pacific Ocean tidepool creatures.
Their green color comes from an endosymbiotic (living within the anemone mutually benefiting both organisms), photosynthetic algae in their tentacles and body.
The tentacles can be retracted inside the body cavity or expanded to catch passing prey. When not submerged in the water, they pretty much look like blobs covered with fragments of shells from things they’ve eaten.
Aggregating Anemones catch prey that comes within reach of their tentacles and immobilize it with the aid of their venom-filled stinging cells within their tentacles.
The tentacles are triggered by the slightest touch, firing a harpoon-like filament into their victim and injecting a paralyzing neurotoxin. The prey is then transported to the anemone’s mouth and engulfed.
Despite the potency of its venom to its prey, sea anemones are harmless to humans. I stuck my finger near this one and it wrapped around it, trying to pull my finger into its mouth!
The closest relatives of these amazing creatures are jellyfish and corals. This was a fun animal to make an acquaintance with on my trip to California.
Third Eye Herp