Hermit Beetle

2013 May 25

Here’s a big beetle of a species that I posted before, way back in 2008. I think the pictures are a bit sharper and show more detail this time, though.

It’s a Hermit Beetle, Osmoderma eremicola. I found it while I was at work on July 3, 2012. It was on a wall, plowing through a spider’s web as if it wasn’t there. This is the species with smooth wing covers, not the other closely-related species with the rough wing covers.

These are some of our biggest local beetles, even slightly bigger than the May/June Beetles. One of their quirks is that they don’t like to stay still on smooth surfaces (like pieces of paper), but will happily perch on rounded surfaces (like my left thumb).

They are one of the scarab beetles, with the typical scarab’s short antennae with a set of fingerlike appendages at the end.

There’s a bit of fuzz on the underside, but nothing like the May/June Beetles. This may be partly because the Hermit Beetles are a summer species, and so they don’t need the insulation.

The mouthparts are nothing significant, but they do eat. We fed this one bits of fruit (banana bits, pulp-covered peach pits, and apple cores) for several weeks and it did just fine (we finally let it go to do the things that beetles do).

These actually make pretty good pets, as the adult beetles live for quite a long time (two or three months as adults), don’t bite, eat things that you will probably have around the house anyway, and are rugged enough to tolerate handling. They can be easily raised in captivity, and the grubs are reported to do well in a moist mixture of rotten wood, dead leaves, dog food, and compost. In the wild, they live inside of rotting, hollow trees, and go through two winters as grubs before emerging as adults. They apparently don’t need to go through a freeze/thaw cycle to mature like a lot of other insects do, and so if you raise them indoors they can go through a complete life cycle in about 6-8 months.

One Response leave one →
  1. May 25, 2013

    I would bet that they don’t like smooth surfaces because they can’t grab onto anything. Those hooks on their limbs must act like suction cups if there is any roughness to the surface at all.

    Related: You always see roly polies dead on cement, having been turned over somehow and unable to right themselves. You never see this in the dirt as they can always twist and grab something to pull themselves back to their feet. From this, it’s easy to conclude that cement is unnatural. Something to keep in the back of your mind, should you ever find yourself conversing with an intelligent alien race who asks about cement sidewalks.

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