Black Beetle with Red Markings – ???
I found this large (1.25 inches long) beetle floating in my Florida swimming pool this morning. I dipped him out with the pool net and laid the net down in the shade of some hibiscus bushes, measured and photographed the beetle. I left it there in the shady quiet to dry off, and eventually it must have departed. Can you tell me what it was?
This is a Palmetto Weevil, Rhynchophorus cruentatus.
Update from David Gracer, edible insect specialist (05/25/2006)
Palmetto Weevil: Rhynchophorus cruentatus
Rhynchophorus weevils: the ULTIMATE in yummy! This is the North American representative of possibly the most treasured edible insect of all. The larvae of R. cruentatus and R. palmarum were/are eaten throughout much of the New World, and other members of the genus are among the most sought-after foods in some societies. R. ferrugineus, better known as the Sago Grub, is eaten in Papua New Guinea; some people have gone there just to eat them. Yet this species, which feed on palm trees, has become introduced into many countries, from the Middle East (where it’s a serious threat to culturally-important date palms) all the way west to Spain. Most Americans, though, would probably feel that the grubs look totally disgusting. There’s a picture of them on my website. Due to its status as a premium delicacy, there is a slightly larger body of lore for these weevil grubs than for most other edible insects. Here is a report from the Caribbean: Provancher (1890) visited several Caribbean islands in 1888 and related the following (as translated by Starr ): While in Port of Spain, Trinidad in May 1888, we stopped by Laventille [now a poor section of the city] one morning in the company of some Dominican fathers.. Walking along a street that skirts the hill, we came upon a black man splitting a wooden log with his hatchet, and near him a little girl holding a teacup. ‘This man is looking for palm grubs,’ one of the fathers told us. ‘Let us stop a moment if you would like to see them.’ On approaching, we saw that the log was in fact the trunk of a palm, probably a coconut palm. It was about four or five feet long and in an advanced state of decomposition. Every blow of the hatchet exposed seven or eight big, very plump grubs, each about three inches long, which the little girl was eagerly gathering into the cup. These larvae were truly handsome animals, of a lovely yellowish white and with six dainty feet near the front end. ‘And do the black people eat these grubs?’ we asked. ‘Oh no,’ we were told, ‘this food is too precious for the poor. They collect them for sale to the English gourmets, who relish them.’ ‘What price do they fetch?’ ‘A small cup such as you see there usually goes for a ‘gourde’, $1.’ We estimated that this trunk would furnish at least two such cups of grubs. These grubs are . . . [the larva of a curculionid beetle, Calandra palmarum Fabr.]. Of course “Calandra” is nothing more than an archaic classification name for Rhynchophorus. As you might imagine, the amount of money discussed would represent a great sum to those doing the gathering. This account is powerful evidence for the argument that Europeans (and, therefore, even Americans) can quickly learn to love eating insects. One of these days I will have the opportunity to eat Rhynchophorus grubs.