Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beetle Gymnastics





I found this little click beetle Athous haemorrhoidalis in a nettle patch and as soon as I disturbed it, it tucked its legs under itself and became completely rigid. When I flicked it onto the palm of my hand it performed its party trick; feigning death then performing energetic gymnastics. The shape of the beetle means that when it folds its legs under itself it automatically rolls onto its back, feet in the air, and there it lies, playing possum, with its body slightly arched. There’s a peg that forms a frictional link between its thorax and its wing cases and tension develops between the two parts of the body as it flexes its muscles, until the peg finally slips and the beetle straightens itself with explosive force, somersaulting into the air and away to safety. The grub of this insect is the wireworm, notorious destroyer of potato crops, but in the wild the adult is a rather endearing insect.

Click here for YouTube video of a click beetle 'clicking' 

6 comments:

  1. Clicks are fascinating Beetles. Great pics, Greenfingers.

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  2. That is fascinating. I don't think I've ever seen one of these before, and I certainly didn't know the wireworm was the grub.

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  3. Thanks Dean, What I'd really like to do is produce a movie clip of the somersault....

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  4. Hi Keith, I'm not sure I'll be quite so favourably disposed towards click beetles when I dig up my crop of early potatoes in a few eeks time and find them full of wireworm holes....

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  5. Allows for more time then to set other (less fortunate) insects to right with a twig.

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  6. By the way, Greenfingers, my name is Kate. We haven't met yet but will do so in 2015. Bye -- for now.

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