The ground shimmered beneath a cloud of movement.  A vast swath of the meadow seemed alive with life that darted and buzzed and hovered.  I could hear them as I approached the motte around which they busied themselves.  Given their size, how well they maneuvered in the air and the noise they made, I first thought them to be bumble bees.  Though it seemed a curious thing for such creatures to be so focused on this place considering there were no flowers in the immediate vicinity.

Once close enough to see them clearly, I realized they weren’t bumble bees.  And I also realized their aerobatic legerdemain ended abruptly when they tried to land.  Not that the larger chafers and flower beetles are known to be expert fliers; however, they’re especially known to be even worse when it comes to landing.  (I’ve always said I know June beetles are out when they start bouncing off the windows and walls around the patio.)

Bumble flower beetle (a.k.a. brown fruit chafer; Euphoria inda) perched on a blade of grass (2010_03_13_051232)

Bumble flower beetles (a.k.a. brown fruit chafers; Euphoria inda).  Several dozen of them.  They settled only momentarily in the open before vanishing into the grass, then seconds later they erupted into the air again.  It tickled me to see how well they performed weaving around each other—and me—and how poorly they performed trying to get on the ground.

Bumble flower beetle (a.k.a. brown fruit chafer; Euphoria inda) lying on its side (2010_03_13_051238)

This one rebounded off the dead leaf and landed on its side.  A not too uncommon sight from what I witnessed.  It paused there for a moment as if stunned, or at least as if it was playing dead so it wouldn’t have to face the embarrassment of its predicament.

Bumble flower beetle (a.k.a. brown fruit chafer; Euphoria inda) standing on a dead leaf (2010_03_13_051242)

Yet it did right itself.  Eventually.

Photographing these critters proved a difficult task since they fly fast and free and land with a rapid devil-may-care dive.  Keeping track of them in the air was hard enough, but then I usually had a second or two at most after they landed before they disappeared between blades of grass.

Most notable about standing in the middle of their morning mêlée: with such a large crowd flying in such a small area, not one of them hit me.  They could certainly teach their cousins a thing or two about flight (but not so much landing).

12 thoughts on “Bumbling”

    1. They were totally delightful, Marie-Ann. I understand they have a chemical defense they can use, but I never experienced it. They were gentlemanly, cordial, welcoming, and loads of fun!

    1. Oh, Ted, you would have loved this. They weren’t the only goodies to be seen for sure, but they were the most numerous. Surrounding a small motte (maybe 1.5 acres in size), they filled ten paces from the drip line into the meadow. Saying there were several dozen probably does an injustice to their numbers.

    1. That tickles me, Jain! Because I was completely infatuated with their antennae, with that flair and flash, like tassels on the handlebars of a bike.

    1. I’m with you on cute, C. My thought: furry, cuddly little bears.

      But I don’t know their range. They might not stretch into your neck of the woods. We have two flight seasons for them (both late winter/spring and late summer/autumn). Since they’re so ferociously adorable, I don’t mind keeping them all for myself. (Because I’m just selfish that way!)

  1. I saw these curious little beetles for the first time today. Had to come home and look them up. When I went back to try and get some better photos, they had left the site.

    Your photos are wonderful!!

    1. Thank you, Leslie! I’m glad you like the photos. And I’m sorry the beetles vanished by the time you returned. But take heart: this is only their first flight season, so even if you don’t photograph them now, they’ll be back later in the year.

  2. You had great photos. We were out spending the day in the woods looking for whatever we could find. The bumble flower beetle flew around us about 4x fairly close to the ground. He then landed on the shaved wood trail and immediately dug under. We could see the wood chips moving so we got close with our cameras to take photos when he came out. We thought it was a bee. The wood chips quit moving in about a minute. We moved some of the chips to see if we could find him. He had found a female and was mating within that short time under the chips. WOW–what a wonderful nature experience.

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