This past June I made a couple of trips to north-central Arkansas. They were my first real efforts to collect insects in Arkansas, despite hundreds (literally) of trips to various localities throughout the Ozark Highlands in adjacent southern Missouri. The similarities between the two areas were obvious, yet there was also the feeling of a brand new area just waiting for exploration. On the second trip, I found a campground that looked good for blacklighting to see what wood-boring beetles I might be able to attract amongst the surrounding pine/oak-hickory forest. The evening was warm (very warm!) and humid with no moon—typically ideal for blacklighting, but beetles were sparse at the sheets for some reason (perhaps deterred by the obnoxiously unrelenting yells of drunk Arkansans and their out-of-control offspring?!). The evening, however, was not a total loss—at one point an enormous stag beetle landed on the top of the sheet. It was so big that I couldn’t even fit it into the viewfinder of my camera:
I fiddled with the camera and changed some settings. I got a little more of the beetle in the viewfinder this time, but it was still just too big:
Additional fiddling with the camera allowed even more of the beetle to be seen:
As I took the photographs, I even began wondering if the beetle itself was actually shrinking:
Eventually, it turned out to be a normal-sized beetle after all:
This is a female of the common eastern North American species Lucanus capreolus.¹ I don’t seem to encounter female stag beetles as often as the males, so this was still a nice find on an otherwise frustrating night.
¹ Two bonus point in the current BitB Challenge session to the first person who correctly explains how I know this. Overall contenders: here’s your chance to score an advantage as we enter the final stretch in the current Challenge session.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011