Monday, July 9, 2018

Beetle Invasion: The Rains are Here, So are the Bugs

Posted By on Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 12:13 PM

click to enlarge Palo Verde Beetle - CREATIVECOMMONS
  • CreativeCommons
  • Palo Verde Beetle

The monsoons are here. The cooling rain and impressive lightning shows that so many Tucsonans patiently wait for each summer are here to nourish the plants, animals and people who call this dry landscape home.

But along with the storms, something else is back... the bugs. One in particular that while some find fascinating, many find terrifying. Ask almost any Tucsonan and they will have at least one horror story involving these huge, shiny, bird-like creatures: the Palo Verde Beetle.

If you are lucky enough not to have encountered these beetles, they are shiny black bugs that are about the size of your hand, with long legs and antennae as long as their bodies. Upon first glance, they look quite like humming birds while flying, but much less cute. During flight, the beetles let their legs hang, making them look like they just flew out of "Jurassic Park."

So, what's the deal with these huge, flying terrors?

1. Perhaps the most important thing to realize about the Palo Verde Beetle, that might help to make them a little less scary, is that they are harmless to humans. They do not bite and they do not sting. They do have large pinchers, but these are for chomping on fruit, not you.

2. They are just looking for love. Palo Verde Beetles spend most of their lives as grubs. They can live three to four years in the roots of Palo Verde Trees, and look almost too juicy even for Bear Grylls to attempt. But once they do blossom into their ugly adult selves, the beetles only live about a month. During this short time, they are searching for love, and die shortly after mating.

3. If you are one of many who do not like the huge beetles, there are some other local critters ready to help. Palo Verde Beetles are dinner for roadrunners, owls, coyotes and bobcats.

4. While the season of the Palo Verde Beetle may be constrained to the summer monsoons here in the desert, beetles are going nowhere. Out of all the animals on Earth, beetles are the most successful group and account for almost a third of all living species.

5. Palo Verde Beetles also go by the name Root Borer Beetle. They also seem to respond to the screams of terror they so often cause.

Find more facts about the Palo Verde Beetle from the experts at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum here.

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