Monday, February 15, 2010
This beetle is a Ponderous Borer. No, I am not criticizing its social skills, although it didn't have much to say as I took its picture. It is "ponderous" as in "huge". You can't tell from the photo (I should have put a coin next to it), but it is about 2 inches long not including the antennae. The "boring" part refers to the larvae of this beetle, which bore through the wood of dead and dying trees.
These beetles like pine trees, so they are sometimes called Pine Sawyers. But I would call what their larvae do "boring" more than "sawing", so "sawyer" is misleading. Coincidentally, they especially like Ponderosa Pines. "Ponderosa" is Spanish for "ponderous", as in "that is a ponderosa steak", or "that is a ponderosa ranch".
This particular beetle was crawling on the sidewalk in a small strip mall in Lake Tahoe. That is not normally where you would find a beetle that loves trees, so I think this one was ill. He had two types of growths or abnormalities on his exoskeleton, the yellow and white pus in the middle of the photo below, and the shiny spot surrounded by white pus at the bottom right.
Here is another closeup that is not so gross. This is his tarsus (foot), showing the hooks that allow him to climb tree bark very well.
If you are into really gross insects, you will want to check out this photo of a Ponderous Borer larva being held in a man's hand. It is a 3 inch long grub as thick as your finger. If Thomas Jefferson had known about the Ponderous Borer, he could have used it as further evidence of the superior vitality of New World species.
at 12:40 AM