Thursday, April 21, 2011

The darkling beetle saga--Part 2

D. Grant Haynes with darkling beetle

In early January when all was frozen outside and the days were frightfully short, I shared with you, my readers and browsers, the story of a darkling beetle (Eleodes spp.) that had emerged from somewhere and entered my warm apartment. The little fellow had paced back and forth for three days and nights when I became aware he would dehydrate and die soon if I did not take some action.

As related previously, I set up a small terrarium on my kitchen floor and sought to make the darkling beetle happy. I knew nothing about the care and feeding of the tiny creature. He, obviously, knew nothing about the large entity that was offering him aid and comfort, rather than squashing or spraying him.

We learned much about one another over the next weeks and months.

Now, more than three months after offering safe haven to one beetle that would have frozen in January's cold, I have six darkling beetles. No, there has been no multiplication of the species here. Rather, other darkling beetle wayfarers have emerged from the woodwork of the apartment from time to time. I have introduced each to the original boarder and they seem to have all gotten along well.

One of the beetles was found outside my door early on a particularly cold March morning. He appeared to be close to expiration. I assume the cold, or possibly some residual pesticide from management's determined spraying of each threshold last summer, had affected him. He could move nothing but his antennae when placed with the others. I expected to find him dead by the next day, but to my surprise, he gradually recovered!

I came to appreciate these harmless little vegetarian creatures more when I observed the healthy ones come and sit quietly by their ailing brother day after day. I cannot know what was communicated nor what healing touch or energy they conveyed, but it apparently worked.

I realized darkling beetles are capable of the rudiments of compassion and other soul qualities men in their arrogance may think are reserved for themselves.

I had read that darkling beetles eat decaying plant material. Not knowing what else to do, I introduced them to mulch from under conifers in my yard and changed the mulch every week or so. They survived on whatever they found in it for over two months. But recently, on impulse, I placed a small bit or raw broccoli (a leaf) in their enclosure. I learned that they love broccoli! Within minutes, they were lined up as tiny pigs at a trough, each munching on the broccoli. They receive a ration of several bits of broccoli daily now.

How long must this continue? When will I put them outside and, in doing so, turn them back to God, Love, the Universal Spirit, from which we all emanate and in whose merciful arms we all ultimately reside? Soon, I hope. I would have expected them to have been liberated long before the third week of April. But the winter has been a severe one in Eastern Washington and the nights are still dropping below freezing quite often.

I am anxious to release these harmless creatures so they can do "beetle" things during the brief summer they are allocated as a life form indigenous to Washington State. I hope to do so by May 1.

My visitants have taught me much and I am grateful to have known them.

D. Grant Haynes


I released my seven little darkling beetle charges today, May 19. I had never intended to keep them so long, but cold nights persisted well into the present month. And they had appeared to be comfortable and at peace in my care.

Still and all, they deserved to be free to do beetle stuff during the brief Pacific Northwest summer about to begin in earnest.

I released the beetles far from human habitation with its pesticides, herbicides and lawn mowers.

I made a brief video of their departure--something I may seek to incorporate into a comprehensive statement about my philosophical underpinnings and my long-held belief in the sanctity of all life forms.

D. Grant Haynes