Can We Be Friends?

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

This morning I observed a Figeater Beetle as it landed on a mesquite tree and began dining on a bean pod.  The beetle attempted to settle down to enjoy its meal, but something was plainly disturbing it.  It kept waving its front feet in obvious irritation and, several times it turned its body around entirely as if to get away from some petty annoyance.

At first, I couldn’t figure out what could be the beetle’s problem.  Whatever it was that was bothering it was too small to visualize.  But, then, I noticed a minuscule object on the bean pod that kept advancing toward the beetle’s face.  Looking closely, I realized that it was a tiny fly.  The fly, apparently attracted by the mesquite juices welling up from the area that the beetle was chewing, kept trying to get its share of the meal.  The beetle was not amused.

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I captured the two protagonists in an apparent staring contest.  The Figeater Beetle is about an inch long.  I estimate that the fly is about 1/8th the length of the Figeater Beetle.  I never would have noticed it but for the beetle’s annoyed reaction.

Figeater Beetles are also known as Green Fig Beetles and are colloquially referred to as “June Bugs.”  They are, however, neither bugs nor do they appear in June.  These big beetles make their appearance in southern Arizona beginning in late July. They are impressive in appearance, but quite harmless.

In nature no possible niche goes unfilled.  That fly obviously has evolved to take benefit from the beetle’s foraging (notice that there’s a second fly in the air beneath the beetle).  Almost certainly, there is something much tinier than the fly that pesters it from time to time.  And, so it goes.

Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 320, f16 @ 1/160.


One response to “Can We Be Friends?”

  1. Tom Munson says :

    Terrific image, Steve. You had to look close to find this.

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