Are You Bugged By Bugs?

I’m not, but I am bugged by people who call insects bugs (grin).  I spent a good part of my life studying insects so I’m very comfortable around them and them being around me.  I just don’t see them the way most people do.

That said, it wasn’t always so.  Long before I became a biologist my dad moved our family from Ohio to Arizona.  It was great being away from snow, only having to own one set of clothes and not having to worry about what the weather was going to be like every day.  But when the monsoon season, the time that Arizona gets the majority of its very limited rainfall, something happened that upset this bliss.  Derobrachus hovorei appeared.  These “little” guys feed on the roots of Palo Verde trees as larvae but the adults are beetles (3″ long) and they’re powerful flyers.

I’ll never forget my fist encounter with them.  I was a just-barely-a-teenager, minding my business, when one of these things flew right into me.  It fell to the ground and immediately started buzzing.  It was the scariest thing I’d ever seen.  Now, a bunch of years later I know that they are harmless nectar feeders with only one thing on their mind – finding a mate, but at the time…

So what does this have to sketching?  Well, Derobrachus hovorei is a Cerambycid beetle, one of around 40,000 species of the Family Cerambycidae that share our planet.  This makes it the largest beetle family and they exhibit a correspondingly large degree of variability, providing an endless set of opportunities as sketching subjects.

See…you knew I’d get there, didn’t you (grin)?  Not only are their sizes and shapes quite varied, many of them look like tiny Christmas tree ornamets because of their bright, often metallic colors.  I just love them, so I drew one just for you.

6 Responses to “Are You Bugged By Bugs?”

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  1. Pat Roberson says:

    Love this sketch, and love beetles! Beautiful colors!

    • Glad you liked it, Pat. Do you still get those large beetles in the city? Phoenix Metro has shoved the desert (and Palo Verde trees) further away so I’m curious to know whether the urban beetle population has moved with it.

  2. Tina M Koyama says:

    I admit, I am not big on bugs, insects, spiders and anything else buzzy, crawly or fly-y. But I found your post fascinating, and your sketch is downright lovely!

    • As location sketchers we quickly learn that sketching changes our point of view of a lot of things. Basic to that is that many things that were seen as nuisance, ugly, or disgusting become subjects of our art. Same goes for insects. Next time you see one, think of it saying “Don’t hate me because I don’t have fur” and you might see them differently (grin).

  3. Elva says:

    I love bugs! and I love your sketch of of the beetle. I was poking around in fresh bison dung just yesterday looking for dung beetles. …. and Dale had the good fortune to photograph a spider hunting wasp digging her burrow and bringing in a paralyzed spider. I didn’t know you are also interested in insects.

    • Dung beetles are cool but their choices of where to hang out leave something to be desired. One of my favorite insects are the large pompilid wasps that go after tarantulas. I’ve only seen one of them with a tarantula but they’re almost as big as a hummingbird. As for me and insects, I spent most of my research career working with one insect or another.

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