June 09, 2013

Bugged out

I looked for them all last month but didn't see any: maybugs, or cockchafers, were late taking to the air this spring. But yesterday I found a dead one on the pavement, its head, with the characteristic orange antenna, and wingcases missing; bitten off, quite possibly, but a bat, an owl or even a domestic cat.

Many people mistake the pointed section at the end of their abdomen for a sting (the females use it to lay eggs); but although Maybugs are loud and clumsy fliers, they are, in fact, completely harmless.

Like their cousin the stag beetle, these are impressive creatures, living for only for a month or so and thus acting as a true seasonal marker – although their large, c-shaped grubs live underground for three winters before pupating.