Saturday, September 7, 2013

Devil's coach horse


This devil's coach horse beetle Ocypus olens crossed out path when we were walking along the promenade from Tynemouth to North Shields this lunchtime. These are usually most active after dark, when they hunt slugs and other small insects, so it's quite unusual to see one out and about at mid-day in bright sunshine.



































Devil's coach horses are staphylinid beetles (commonly known as rove beetles), which characteristically have very short wing covers (elytra). 

This is one of the largest British staphylinids but the smaller ones (some only a millimetre or two long) fly very well; I'm not sure if devil's coach horses do fly, but if they do it would be something to see.......... the old engraving below suggests that they can get airborne... 










































They do have characteristic and quite intimidating defensive behaviour, cocking up that long tail and opening their needle-sharp jaws. This one didn't oblige, despite being poked, but there are quite a few movies of this defensive behaviour posted on YouTube - this is a good one...


1 comment:

  1. They are superb. The first shot I really like.
    Though they have wings I'm not convinced they are big enough to enable them to fly.

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