Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Sexton Beetle

(4) Sexton

(4) Sexton

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The Sexton Beetle
As I wander around Bute, I meet some queer looking insects, some that look dangerous, but are not, and some that look innocent, but are quite the reverse.
This one is comes into the Innocent category, it will not bite, and you can lift it up and it will just carry on walking in your hand, and if you turn it round, it will wander off in the direction that you have pointed it in. Put it back on the ground it will also proceed as pointed. One would also connect reddish/orange as a sign of danger, but looks are deceiving as in this case, so do not be alarmed.

Taken from the net. (There are several beetles known as Sexton, burying, or grave digging beetles, for their habit of carrying off the dead. These are carrion eaters and are usually to be found around - or in the corpses of dead animals and birds. The bodies of small creatures are buried by the beetles excavating a hollow under the corpse and dragging it underground. They then lay their eggs by the body which will provide the food source for the emerging larvae.
Despite their gory life style the beetles are good mothers. They stay with the newly hatched grubs, feeding them partially digested food and biting holes in the carcase to allow the grubs to enter it and fend for themselves.
This particular species is only about 16mm long although other species can reach 30mm in length. The image shows that the beetle can carry a group of mites which will be transported from one food source to another.) There are seven of them on top, with more on the underside.
There are a few different ones on Bute with all black ones being the most common. Some with orange tips on the end of their antennae, and some without, or with less. The last one that I found was at the second entrance into the Skeoch Woods from the pavement. I took some images of it then released it, but my images were not good enough for an accurate identification as I was facing its back, so I went back the next day, waited a few minutes and another one appeared. Not the same one, as it had more colour on its antennae than yesterday’s one. So got a view from the front which all that was needed.
Now, how many times could you have done that? It certainly was a first for me. I did not really expect that one of them would be there, but I thought that I would give it a go, so there, nothing is impossible.

Got better images, so I was happy, but some are very difficult to identify as they can be almost identical to others, so I put this one in a wee plastic container, and gave it to Glyn Collis. ( The Moth Man)
The black beetles that we used to know as the ‘Rain Beetles’ in our younger days are still plentiful, which when we see one we were told that it was a sign that it was going to rain, so in Scotland that means we should see one every second day? Well today, (Wednesday 21st Nov) as I was walking on the road back from New Farm one of these rain beetles crossed the road I front of me. Well I had seen tomorrows forecast earlier and it was for winds up to 70 mph and torrential rain. Was the beetle’s arthritis giving it gyp, and it was just going for shelter as it’s a poor swimmer?

Norrie Mulholland
First Published in the Buteman, 11-01-2013


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