What is that!?!

Dear Reader,

Dear god, I stumbled upon a most horrific sight this morning.

I admit that I have a rather curious habit of taking walks in a nearby parking garage. Unlike the surrounding area, the parking garage is protected from the harsh summer sun, torrential rain, but also from fellow passersby. For this reason, the parking garage is a trusty option for an outdoor pace. While my walk has become somewhat of a routine, this morning’s pace was anything but ordinary.

If just the thought of large bugs makes you squeamish, Dear Reader, I suggest that you skip this post (don’t worry, no pictures included!).

As I reached the top of the parking garage and entered the corridor to descend the stairs, a loud buzzing noise stopped me in my tracks. When I turned and looked, I saw a dark UFO (literally an “unidentifiable flying object”) the size of a donut hole hovering in the corner. It was quite frankly terrifying. I would not do battle with such a creature. Killing something that big would surely leave blood and guts strewn about— yuck!

I darted down the stairs, heart pounding, and did not look back. I left the parking garage and did not think very much of the incident.

Later that day, however, I returned for an evening walk and was surprised (and, admittedly, half-terrified) to see that the six-legged beast was lying helplessly on its back with its legs extending and contracting in the open air. Even though the bug looked defenseless, again its sheer size made it a frightful sight.

At another point during my walk I thought back to the news of the “murder hornets.” These giant hornets from Asia— with a bite that can potentially kill you, even if you are not allergic to them— have made an appearance in the Pacific Northwest. This bug got media attention most recently because some scientists in Washington have successfully trapped one. My mind ran to worst-case scenarios and I thought to myself, was this buzzing fiend a murder hornet?

I went online to look up pictures of the hornets and found that luckily (but, somewhat disappointedly) that this parking garage companion was not a murder hornet. Regardless, I read a bit more into the murder hornet topic online and I found that Penn State University offers a service for insect identification. Through a link, I sent pictures of the parking garage bug, described the situation, and asked whether the insect was dangerous.

To my great delight, I received an answer from a researcher the very next morning:

The insect in the photo is some kind of scarab beetle (family Scarabeidae). There are approximately 1700 species of scarabs in North America, and unfortunately this specimen is on its back, so I can’t see any characteristics that would allow me to identify it further. That being said, all scarabs feed on plant material as adults. A few such as Japanese beetles are pests, but most species are innocuous and not pests. They don’t bite and aren’t medically important.

It turns out that I was spooked by a harmless beetle. But I assure you it was a big-ass beetle, who buzzed with seemingly nefarious intentions….

The more you know, I guess!

Love,

Raven

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