The famous Magee Marsh bird trail wasn’t exactly hopping with the feathered crowd last Saturday, but many of us did get a “life beetle”. Thanks to the sharp-eyed Dan Sanders, who noticed the following bug as it lay camouflaged on the boardwalk hand rail. At one point, you’d of thought we had a Connecticut Warbler, such was the assembled throng. Indeed, at least one birder rushed over excitedly asking about what we had, only to deliver a somewhat disappointed “oh. a beetle?” They perked up when they saw this thing, though – it is a cool bug indeed!
Eyed Click Beetle, Alaus oculatus. And what eyes. You could get lost staring into those mysterious pools of loveliness. Except they are not eyes at all! The large spots exist to fool would-be predators into thinking something eminently more savage and dangerous is at hand, and this clever beetle has one more trick if all else fails, as we shall see.
So, Ed the titmouse makes a lunge for the beetle meal, and SNAP! The clicker clicks, sending the giant eye-spotted monster shooting six inches into the air, and in the blink of an eye. Cut to two fleeing titmice, who will never again pester anything that looks like this.
Nature is full of tricks.