things that go bump in the night

I’m a little late in reporting this, but late in the evening on August 4th, while out photographing moths, I was struck on the head repeatedly by this large beetle — a Spotted Pelidnota Beetle (Pelidnota punctata). It was a little larger and more robust than the “June Bug” beetles that we see around here at night in early summer. The body was probably about 25mm or so long. It was very active, whizzing in big arcs around the mercury vapor lamp. It was also rather wreckless, colliding with me numerous times before buzzing off to momentarily rest on a leaf before resuming its erratic flight. Also known as the Grapevine Beetle, this member of the Scarab Beetle family (Scarabaeidae), subfamily Rutelinae, feeds on grape and other foliage, while its larvae live in and feed on rotting roots and wood.

Interesting phenological snippet: While doing some catch-up reading of Aydin Ă–rstan’s Snail’s Tales blog the other night, I noticed that he had posted a photo of a similar beetle on August 15th, and had linked to a post about a sighting of another of the same beetles on Alex Wild’s Myrmecos Blog.

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No Responses to “things that go bump in the night”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    That’s interesting beetle behavior, bev. I wonder why it kept being drawn back to you. That Grapevine Beetle is quite a brightly colored creature with very pretty antenna.

    I’ve been seeing other reminders about Rock Flipping Day. Maybe we’ll find a nice rock to flip over somewhere.

  2. John Says:

    Nice photo, Bev, as usual. The beetle looks very similar to some I’ve seen in Texas, but I’m not certain the ones I’ve seen are the same. “Mine” seem darker in color and the spots blend in more with the remainder of the body. Judging from the Wiki info, “mine” are not the same, as the Grapevine Beetle doesn’t seem to live in Texas.

  3. bev Says:

    robin – I think it might just have been that in the darkness, my face was reflecting some of the light from the lamp. In the past, I’ve noticed that June bugs do the same thing if you stand near a lamp rather than in a dark place. I love the antennae on these too. All of the chafer beetles have antennae that somehow remind me a little of moose antlers.

    John – There are quite a lot of large beetles in the Scarab family, so I’m sure you would find some pretty neat ones down your way!

  4. Eva Says:

    Great detail in the photo.

  5. DougT Says:

    This species is a favorite of mine. I always think the elytra look like they are made from burnished wood. I usually see them much earlier in the summer- usually mid to late June.

  6. NIna Says:

    Yes, it IS the time for large beetles.
    And thanks for the remonder of Rock-Flipping. I had a ball last year–plan to flip this year, too.

  7. bev Says:

    Eva – Thanks!

    Doug – Interesting that you should mention the elytra being like burnished wood. I kept looking at them and thinking that they reminded me of something, but I couldn’t quite place it.

    Nina – I’ve been doing some work around my gardens this week and am seeing lots of beetles scurrying for cover. Maybe I’ll find a few of them on International Rock-flipping Day!

  8. Peggy Dibble Says:

    On my Blueberry plant I saw two white caterpilars with a black line down its back. To learn more about these caterpilars, I checked online. The name is Lophocampa caryae Hickory Tussock Moth. Doing that I found this story and read it all. Wonderful life he had with you next to him.
    Thank you,

  9. MObugs41 Says:

    I’ve recently found your blog, and I must say I LOVE IT! Your photography is amazing. Last summer I put up a mercury vapor light in the hopes of attracting interesting species I wouldn’t normally get to see, and it was a huge success. I was able to take many wonderful photos. I too experienced something similar to the behavior you described with this beetle, it seems they do have a very heavy erratic flight pattern and easily become confused and bombard us. They are quite lovely beetles though.

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