“American Oil-Beetle”

“It’s spring, the forest bugs have begun their cycle: eat, poop, breed.” – Ed Lehming

As I’ve noted quite a few times, their are so many details that we miss on casual observation, especially if what we are observing is unexpected to start with.

I was out making photos of local wildflowers a few weeks back and happened to notice an unusual shimmer of metallic blue next to the Bloodroots I was focused on. As I looked closer, I found that what I at first thought was a small piece of discarded metal wrapper, after all, what else would be blue and metallic, turned out to be a fairly large blue beetle.

The beetle did not seem to mind me as I got closer for a shot, as it was busily feeding on the stem of a plant. Even as I moved some debris out of the way, the beetle was so fixated on it’s meal, it didn’t move at all. I wondered if it was dead. On closer observation, I could see slight movement of its antennae and head. I took advantage of that lack of movement and made a few close-up images, first because it was a really cool looking bug and secondly, so I could identify it later, since I have never seen this kind of beetle around here. It turned out to be an American Oil Beetle, part of the Blister Beetle family. There is a significance in the name blister beetle and oil beetle. It turns out that their primary defense is producing a caustic oil that will cause skin blisters. I just learned something valuable, not that I am about to go around picking these things up.

As I looked closer at the image, during my editing process, I noticed that not only was the beetle busy eating, it had also produced quite a pile of green poop. It also looks like it’s been there for a while since there are two other piles of refuse that have since dried up and turned brown. The things you see when you really spend time looking at something.

So, my day of wildflower photography also turned into a lesson on beetles. It seems there is always something new to learn.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/160 sec, f/20, ISO 800

3 Comments on ““American Oil-Beetle”

  1. Lovely image, well spotted! I know what you mean about not seeing things, even when looking closely the obvious is easily missed. I’ve walked through the same patch of bush for over 20 years and often look closely for fungi. Only this year have I noticed there are at least 8 species of Orchid! Enjoying your photography and blog that I stumbled upon. Greetings from Tasmania 😀

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