I didn’t really want to write this post because my skin itches whenever I look at insect photos, even photos that I took myself.
But I have to because I can’t get over my curiosity; it is quite a remarkable creature.
If you don’t like looking at insect photos, this is a warning to stop reading and flee for your life now, because I will be sharing many close-ups of this mascara-ed winged wonder.
I first posted the following photo on Facebook and Twitter after I discovered this insect in my kitchen, trying to eat my dish cloth.
My first priority, of course, was to rescue the dish cloth. I placed Piers’ bug cup over the insect and then slid the dish cloth away.
Then I noticed that it wasn’t flying around in the cup like the usual panicked insect does, and it was walking all wobbly.
Also, it appeared to have heavily mascara-ed eyelashes.
So I risked quicky lifting the cup just enough to stick my camera lens in and take a photo. This photo.
None of my Facebook and Twitter friends were able to identify the insect.
Piers wanted me to release it outside.
And this conversation happened.
That’s my darling boyfriend for you, defender of bugs, holy crusader against bug abuse.
In the past, I would have flushed it down the toilet without a further thought. But you don’t live with someone for more than two years and not pick up a few noble habits (as well as a few naughty ones, such as drinking orange juice out of the carton).
So, out of love for my bug-loving beloved, I actually attempted to feed the silly creature.
I had decided by this time that it was harmless to me since it wasn’t even able to walk properly, much less fly into my eyes and poke my eyeballs out, so I removed the cup prison from it.
And then I took a load of close-up photos because the first one, taken hurriedly in fear, was a bit blurred.
After studying these photos, I realise now why it wasn’t able to walk properly. If you look at the right hind leg, you can see that it’s missing a foot there. (Well, it’s probably technically not a foot but you can see it’s missing something, anyway.)
I’m sorry if the post title is a bit misleading since this bug did not at any time demonstrate the ability to fly, but I’m sure it used to fly just fine in its heyday so let’s not be too judgmental now.
So, anyway, I offered it a bit of coriander leaf, a drop of water and a stale cake crumb (from the remains of my breakfast). Just in case it likes cake.
In the above photo, it looks like it might be drinking the water, but it wasn’t. It was still floundering about unsteadily, acting very bewildered and upset, even though it’s gotten itself a free lunch.
It totally didn’t accept my offering and turned away. What did it want, a posh three-course French dinner?
Maybe it just doesn’t like coriander. And stale cake.
It continued to stagger about drunkenly.
So I left it alone the rest of the afternoon and waited for Piers to come home. It didn’t move much from that general spot.
When Piers came home, he got the bug to hop onto the bug cup, then took it downstairs to the communal garden and set it loose on our dying (or dead, I dunno) chilli plant.
I hope it likes chilli leaves and that it grows a new foot soon.
Oh, wait, I don’t suppose insects can regenerate limbs and appendages anymore than humans can. Can they?
But the more pertinent questions are:
What the heck is this insect and where did it buy those amazing fake lashes?
Piers posted my photos in a couple of forums and has received a definite answer! This insect is a wasp nest beetle (or metoecus paradoxus) and it’s a paraside!
The adult lays eggs on rotting wood in the hope that a wasp will visit to harvest wood fibre for its nest. If one does, the beetle larva tries to climb onto the back of the wasp and is transported to the nest. It then seeks out a wasp grub and parasitises it. The beetle grows and pupates and emerges as an adult just after the time the wasp would have done.