Friday, November 12, 2010

Beetle Parade

Driving home from the grocery store yesterday, I noticed some small black shapes crossing the highway. They weren't hopping like crickets, but moving at a slow and steady pace. From this I deduced that they were beetles. Some were heading right to left, some left to right.

They were busily trundling across the highway, obviously on a mission. Were they looking for love (in all the wrong places)? Food? A new home? I tried to look up these beetles on line later. Did you know that Texas A&M lists 82 different kinds of beetles in Texas? Trying to identify a beetle by typing "moving in November" doesn't work. Perhaps they were a type of ground beetle. They were on the ground, after all.

I had a choice before me that morning: drive blithely on ignoring the crunch of carapaces under my wheels, or attempt to avoid as many of the little creatures as possible. I consider myself a good person, a protector of life, a respecter of all species (except maybe fire ants), so I opted for dodging.

Caveat:  This was not a full-speed highway. I was on Kohlers Crossing between Kyle and Buda, where the speed limit is 40 or 45. Luckily, there was not much traffic. I proceeded down the road making careful course corrections so as not to flatten the busy beetles. Occasionally, I couldn't dodge in time, and I cringed at the imagined "crunch."

I saved many beetles yesterday. Well, at least my car was not the instrument of their deaths. I hope they made it safely to their destinations. (Taking food home to beetle children? Shopping at the HEB trash bins?)

It's a good thing a policeman wasn't following me. He would have undoubtedly pulled me over on suspicion of intoxication. I'm not sure he would have appreciated the explanation for my weaving: "Officer, I was respecting the sanctity of beetle life."

Favorite spot in the garden today:

Choosing a favorite spot has much to do with the vantage point. This is the view from my office window, and it is so cheerful, that I must pick it today!

You are looking at Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii), which blooms in late October into November. Occasionally it freezes before it can bloom. Some years it is even more eye-catching than this, but I pruned too late (I can see my mother-in-law shaking her head at me). This happy plant will continue blooming, drawing scads of butterflies and moths, until the first freeze. It is one of my favorites; it requires little to no water, has a strong scent (discouraging deer depredations), and looks absolutely stunning in a good year. So stunning, in fact, that it is worth having even if it doesn't bloom every year.

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website, this is a desert plant native to Arizona, Mexico and Central America. It works great for the hardscrabble soil here!

Oh, and according to A Field Guide to Texas Insects, the beetle on the daisy is a spotted cucumber beetle. It has an incredible species name for such a little bug, so I'll share it just for fun:  Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi Barber.


  1. Fun beetle story. Enjoyed your post.

  2. Imagining you swerving around to avoid slow-poke beetles was extremely amusing. Sounds like something I would do (and I'm dying to know what those beetles were!)I like your Copper Canyon Daisy profile!

  3. I agree that the explanation for swerving all over the road would probably not impressed a policeman but it was the right thing to do.

    I am very envious of the view you have from yoru office window.