Friday, October 14, 2011

Wine, Bacon, and Beetles

A beetle that appreciates wine - the Picnic Beetle
Autumn has certainly settled in and as the leaves colour and fall, the other garden colours also fade away. Gone are the butterflies, yellowjackets, bumble bees, and flower flies. A few flowers still linger in spots sheltered from the frost, but only honeybees visit them. If you search around, there are still plenty of grey flies and midges. A small swarm of Dixella midges were dancing near the pond on a warm evening just last week. But the drabness of winter is clearly drawing neigh.
Glischrochilus fasciatus (Olivier, 1790)
So a colourful beetle is a welcome visitor, even if it seems intent on drowning in one's wine. Glischrochilus fasciatus (Olivier, 1790) has a number of boring common names based on its spots, but my favourite nom de bug is the Picnic Beetle. A member of the Sap Beetle family (Nitidulidae), well known for their fondness for fermenting plant juices, the Picnic Beetle often lives up to its name and pesters those of us that quaff our fermented drinks outdoors. The adult beetles overwinter, so their autumnal draughts are probably the last fun they'll have until the spring.
Dermestes lardarius - aka Bacon or Larder Beetle
Another, less colourful beetle, has also been around, but is not so welcome. Dermestes lardarius was named by Linnaeus himself in 1758 and now occurs around the world in people's homes. The most common common name seems to be the Larder Beetle, but I prefer the Bacon Beetle. Any beetle that likes bacon must have some redeeming qualities. Like the Picnic Beetle, the Bacon Beetle overwinters as an adult. The larvae prefer high protein foods and commonly dine on meat, pet food, and dead insects. I imagine they miss the good old days when hams and bacons were hung near the fireplace, but they seem to do just fine on what they can find now.
Hyssopus officinalis flowers into October


  1. Wine, bacon and coffee...I just found a ladybird in my morning coffee. Just a seven-spot though, so I didn't panic.

  2. Amazing - I just read your comment, looked down at my empty coffee cup, and IBD if there wasn't a 7-spot sitting on the rim! She's out in the cold now.

    Gotta wonder about those brightly contrasting colours on the Picnic Beetle - bet they taste pretty bad.

  3. Wine and bacon; what good taste! Is there a stilton cheese beetle to make the picnic complete? :)