As you can probably tell from the photo this was a pretty small beetle. I would guess about a cm in length. My attention was caught because at first I thought it was a deformed firefly. “Damn you, patented-evil-herbicide,” I thought. Then I looked more closely …
Ok. Ahem. Obviously not a firefly though a couple of sources online actually describe it as a firefly mimic. Whew. Always nice to know when other people share my delusions. The bum eye view does look vaguely like a firefly’s face.
I guess at a quick glance most predators will decide this beetle tastes nasty. “Firefly? Yech. No thanks.” But, if that deception doesn’t fool the predator our colourful beetle has another magic trick. Most creatures will move in the direction they are facing when startled or attacked. If you were a bird looking down at this beetle you might predict it will move to the left since that looks like the beetle’s face. Instead, the beetle will probably fly to the right since that is the direction it is truly facing. That small moment of confusion might give the beetle enough of an edge to escape and survive.
It must think its Halloween costume is effective. It showed absolutely no fear of me.
I couldn’t find much information about it other than these snippets:
- They live in Texas, Mexico and places further south; and,
- They really like asters — particularly gumweed.