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 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.
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.
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).