Friday, March 28, 2008

Do beetles get hangovers?

David Brady, over at Insect Picture of the Day has recently been looking at a carpet beetle, (here and here) and we've been wondering about the mouthparts.

I was (am still) interested in getting a clear picture of the face, so I've been searching for a new, live beetle. Dead ones don't work; they curl their faces inwards when they retract their legs; I can't even see the eyes.

If I have an infestation, it's not much of one. I even vaccuumed and went through the dust bag looking for a beetle, with no luck. But they may be coming in from outside; at least, I found a pair finally, by the back door.

They weren't a very cooperative couple; they seemed more interested in trundling around than in having their photo taken. When I put them on ice, they immediately, before I could even grab the camera again, retracted legs and face into slots and played dead.

Yesterday, with only one left alive (they don't do well under the heat of the lamp), I tried slowing him down with a drop of water. It worked, for a couple of minutes.

Ahhhh! I was so thirsty!

But as soon as he'd drunk his fill, he went to roaming around with renewed energy.

I gave him a few sugar crystals; he liked those.

What's this?

Mmmm. Tastes good!

Chomp, chomp, chomp. Lick, lick, lick. I like this!

This one's good, too.

I could see, under the lens, his little mouthparts working away. When I shook the lid he was in (by mistake) and the crystals rolled, he went with one, clutching it tightly, and went back to his feeding as soon as they landed.

Mine! All mine!

Now, the morning after, he's very lethargic. I think he overindulged.


  1. Anonymous7:46 am

    Well, I think I see what David Brady was seeing on his - it looks like he only saw half of the mandible.

    I like the idea of using water and sugar to get the little bugs to hold still. I'll have to try that.

  2. Anonymous7:59 am

    Oh, and by an interesting coincidence, I just happened to post some pictures of a carpet beetle earlier this morning, too. It's a different species from yours, though.

  3. No, I think my beetle was actually vampiric. Shortly after I took that picture, it attacked a housefly, drained it of its blood, and then turned into the tiniest little bat you ever saw and then flew away.

    (That was more fun to say than "yeah, I think it was the side view of the mandibles.)

    We buried the housefly in the backyard with a wooden stake through its thorax to be on the safe side. Took me forever to sharpen the toothpick.

    As for the sugar trick... that's clever. I'm with Tim--I'll have to try that.

  4. Beetle sugar high!

    If you do have beetles in the house, they might be living in your upholstery (as it were) rather than in the floor coverings.

    (Apologies if this appears twice. I'm having difficulties this morning.)

  5. Tim;
    Yes, I saw your post. I'll be commenting on it here (and there, but briefly) tomorrow, I think.

    By the way, if you use water, make sure it's not freshly-drawn tap water. Something, I think it's the chlorine, makes some of the smaller critters curl up and die.

    "Sharpened toothpick"; heh heh!

    Thanks for the tip; I'll clean the uphostery, too. (And then check the bag.)

  6. This post is way cool. Very funny too. Loved reading the comment, too.

  7. Hi, Lynne!

    I love your blog. Brought back memories.


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