The Scarabs are really strange lot

There are many families of beetles in the world, and one of the largest is the Scarabinae.
This consists mostly of dung beetles and tumblebugs—and a lot of there are really strange.
Dung beetles, as the name suggests, live on dung, mostly. A lot of them have a peculiar habit of rolling soft dung up into a ball and then burying it in the ground.
This is not just for fun. When the larvae hatch out, they have a food supply right at hand—and burying the ball gives it quite a bit of protection.
Some of these beetles are fairly big (up to nearly three inches in length) while some are really tiny (down to half-a-millimetre or so). And they come in all colours, from dull black to a very bright brown.
A few are really quite colourful—shiny green all over or with coloured bars on their outer wings.
And some of them have a horn on top of their head, or maybe two or three!
Incidentally, the common June bug, which we all know when it gets into our lawns and gardens, is a member of this family.
This bug, as an adult, is not too bad (just a nuisance). But the larvae are the white grubs, which feed on the roots of plants and can do a lot of harm to your garden or lawns.
Skunks find them just great to eat, so don’t be too hard on the skunks which dig in your lawn at night.
In ancient Egypt, the scarab was a sacred insect and was fully protected. If anyone killed or damaged this bug, he very likely was handed over to the official executioner.
There are stories of the Pharaoh moving his entire army left or right to avoid having this beetle trampled by the horses or his soldiers.
Tumblebugs have some odd habits, too. We do have them here in Northwestern Ontario.
For instance, they chew off a piece of dung in a pasture, then they form it into a ball and roll it. Usually, two beetles work at the same time—one pushes and the other one pulls.
When they find a suitable place, they bury it a few inches down (you can watch this endeavour in a field almost anywhere).
Chafers also are in this group. They feed on flowers and foliage of roses, grapes, and lots of other plants.
If chickens eat a lot of chafers, they usually get sick—and some die.
One of the serious pests in this bunch in the Japanese Beetle, which came to North America in 1916 and has since spread all over the U.S. and Canada.
It is a serious pest on lawns, fruit trees, and even golf courses.
And there are some which are called Elephant Beetles or Hercules Beetles. As you might guess, these are big bugs (some as much as two-and-a-half inches long).
And then there are the Click Beetles. You may have heard one in the woods or in a log in your fireplace.
They make a very pronounced “click,” which is not made by the legs at all. If you put one of these beetles on its back, it will bend its head and thorax (the abdomen part), then it snaps back with that sudden click.
If it doesn’t land on its feet, it will keep going until it does.
The largest of these is the Eyed Click Beetle, which is greyish but with two prominent eye spots. These are just spots and have nothing to do with eyes at all.
Another large group is the Fireflies or Glow-worms. Almost everybody has seen this insect (in our latitude, glow-worms are most active in the early summer).
Members of this sub-family have a “tail light,” a segment at the back end of the bug which is able to produce light.
This light is unique because it is a “cold” light (i.e., almost 100 percent of the energy is light). Compare this to an electric light bulb, who energy is only about 10 percent light and 90 percent heat.
Some day we may be able to reproduce this feat.
The Scarab family is a huge one, indeed. There are about 90 sub-families in this group.
It includes some of our most interesting insects, as well as some of the most damaging ones in the world!

Posted in Uncategorized