FRED FIRST: Meeting New Neighbors: Giving Them Names

I noticed this odd creature on our porch this week. Both Seek (by iNaturalist) and Google Lens identify this creature pictured here as a brown rove beetle. I don’t think that’s right. Might be close. It matters. Bear with me.

Winged insect possibly a rove beetle (the second largest group of beetles after weevils). Length approximately one inch.

In my 75 years I have never seen this insect before. That it does not yet have a name I can use to get to know it better is causing some mild and persistent distress. I would like to be introduced.

Knowing the NAME would allow me to investigate. Nameless, all I know is what it looks like and where it was observed. The act of naming brings so many potential facts into my learning and understanding about previously-anonymous plants, animals or fungi.

What I have here is closely related to this creature but not spot on.

Many Parts Are Interesting

… with apologies to Euell Gibbons

I especially want to know more about the yellow appendage at the base of the posterior end. I suspect it is some version of a sex organ, but I did not get much chance to observe this inch-long insect before it flew away.

Rove beetles do have complex genitalia. But then, many insects do.

And should one land on your neck…don’t crush it there. You were warned.

I doubt I will see a second one by chance.

If I knew it by name, I could learn if it is on record for our county.

I would make a point to throw a sheet over the porch rail with a work-light shining under it on a warm night soon, and see if I could attract another such insect, for the record. If it is ordinary, except to me: never mind.

If I knew for sure that it is a rove beetle, I would be amazed to realize that it folds its midnight-blue wings in the most complex, asymmetric manner to tuck them under the short, fringed elytra or wing covers that are characteristic of rove beetles. It is really quite odd and wonderful.

And I am always thankful for basic science motivated by the quest to know. There is so much we have yet to learn from nature. We can’t let curiosity diminish, at any age.

Who would have thought I could make something so big of something so small? Some would say I need to find something more substantial and profitable to do with my time than notice trivial, nameless creatures or other ordinary natural happenings around the house. They are so small.

But then, everything small is big, if we look long enough and deeply enough, and expect to learn. Right?

– Fred First is an author, naturalist, photographer watching Nature under siege since the first Earth Day. Cautiously hopeful. Writing to think it through. Thanks for joining me. Subscribe to My Substack HERE

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