Sunday, July 13, 2008


Here in Topanga, it's pretty buggy. I think I've mentioned before that we have critters out here. Well, a lot of those critters belong to the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta. Bugs. Creepy, crawly bugs.

There are a few things that I go "eeuuwww!" about, like rodents and dead things, and other icky stuff. But not bugs.

Bugs don't bug me. When there's a roach or a beetle in my office, I'm the only one who doesn't leap out of my chair and call The Men to do something about it. I don't have a problem picking up a bug with a paper towel and putting him outside the door. Although I'd prefer to remove a bug from the premises rather than smushing him, I don't have a problem smushing bugs if I have to.

I guess it's a good thing, too, because where I live there are lots of insects. We have spiders, moths, incredible armies of little ants. Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets. And lately we've been getting a lot of bugs - true bugs. Did you know that only certain insects are classified as "true bugs?"

Yep. True bugs, like beetles, are known as "Hemiptera" or half-winged, with part of the first pair of wings hardened. True bugs also have mouth parts that are adapted to sucking the juices out of plants and other things. Other insect are just...insects!

Anyway, last night at our home, where a party thrown by Our Son was under way, a young person - a young male person, I might add - deliberately alerted several young ladies about a very large bug in our carport. I think the young man in question was trying to gross out the girls. But when he alerted us to the bug - well, I just got interested.

It was a true bug, indeed. It was about two inches long, with two magnificent antennae that extended out from its mandibles, for all the world like Snidely Whiplash's twirly mustache.

It was beautiful, in a funny way. His hard shiny wings looked like lacquer, and as rich a brown as a French roasted coffee bean. His shapely legs ended in little clawed feet. His antennae were gracefully curved, and the barbs upon them looked jointed and ornamental.

He was an awfully good subject, patiently posing for his close-up. Here he is:

What kind of bug is he? I went to this great site, "What's That Bug?" to find out. People send in bug photos and the sitemaster helps identify them. I was easily able to find my bug in the "Beetles" listing.

The verdict? He's a Prionus californicus, or borer beetle. They range from Alaska to Baja California, and east to the Rocky Mountains.

Isn't the internet great?


Cheryl said...

It is great! Although I prefer to look up birds, not bugs. They're more appealing for some reason.

Kathy Rogers said...

Ugh. I am the one who flies out of the chair, room, state upon seeing a giant bug.

Is that guy one of those that's causing all the trouble with the eucalyptus trees?

Liz Harrell said...

I agree! What would we do without the net? Last year a little snake bit me, and I emailed a photo of it to our zoo and got it identified in about ten minutes!