Beetle Juice!

People don’t think about beetles much.  In fact, you may not even see them very often.  But there are a lot of beetles.  To give you an idea, there are 12,000 species of mammals on the planet, 250,000 species of plants, and just over 350,000 species of beetles.  That’s a lot of species!

Today we’ll talk about a rather fascinating one, at least I think so.  It is called the Deathwatch Beetle.  The name sounds rather sinister and it comes from the sound the beetle makes.  To attract a mate, the male beetle will beat its head against a wooden surface typically in increments of five or so.

The sound was supposed to invoke the image of Death tapping his fingers on a table, waiting for you to die- or at least the legend says.  The appearance of the beetle was a bad omen in the past and some believed that death followed the arrival of the beetle.

Once a male Deathwatch Beetle has attracted a female and they mate, the female will then lay her eggs in the crevices of wood from a tree, table, house, whatever.  When the eggs hatch the baby beetles will spend a long time eating their way out of the wood in which they were laid.  By long, I mean it has been recorded to take up 10 to 15 years.  Yeah, years.

When the beetle emerges it begins to look for a mate and start the whole process over again.  Now these beetles are obviously patient but the sad thing is that they’re rarer than they have been in the past so after all that effort they may not even get a chance to mate.

I’d rather leave you on a gross note instead of a sad one, so I feel inclined to present one more piece of interesting knowledge to you:

The male will release all of its sperm when it mates, which doesn’t sound too crazy except that the Deathwatch Beetle’s sperm consists of up to 12% of it’s body weight.  That’s roughly three or four gallons on a human scale.  So yeah, take that for what it’s worth.

Beetles really are fascinating creatures once you being to research them.  I recommend checking out some of the websites below for some interesting info on these prolific creatures.






Radio Lab



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