Bloody nosed beetle

A bloody nosed beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa) found in the short grass where the rabbits graze at the end of Sleepers Field.

The line running down the middle of his back gives the impression of separate wing cases but, in fact, the wing  cases are fused together and he is flightless. He is a slow moving vegetarian, an ungainly plodder, feeding on bedstraws and other species of Galium.

Beetle food: lady’s bedstraw, cleavers and woodruff, all members of the genus Galium.

Large and domed, he is very shiny with a blue- green, metallic lustre, particularly noticeable on his strangely shaped feet. His antennae look like beads strung on a wire.

He is named for the drop of red, foul tasting liquid he secretes from his mouth when he is attacked. It has been suggested that this defence mechanism is triggered by the breath of a predator, perhaps by either the carbon dioxide it breathes out or just the breath’s warmth. Such defence mechanism can be quite costly to an animal and it can take a long time to recover from their use. So if you find a bloody nosed beetle, resist the impulse to breath on him, put him back in the grass, unbloodied, take his picture and reported him to Ian  who keeps our species lists.

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