What is this guy?
I am resending this message, being that the original was sent during metamorphosis. Since my original message, he chewed out of the bug home the teacher had for him in the classroom, the kids had to do a search for him and found and released him.
Hi, My son found this guy on our wood pile (his class is studying bugs this week and the kids have been asked to bring in some critters!). He makes a funny sort of sound like huu huu. We live in the western part of Virginia (Shenandoah valley).
If I could guess – Is it some kind of ground or stag beetle? The body to me looks similar to those but haven’t found any pics of either with that little horn on his head.
Your site is very cool! Going to recommend it to his teacher to look at with the kids!!
Just read your site is “undergoing metamorphosis” so I hope we can hear back before “bug week” at school is out!
Mary Jo and Andrew
Staunton, VA

Bess Beetle

Bess Beetle

Hi Mary Jo and Andrew,
We are very happy you decided to resend your letter because there have been some taxonomic changes since we first posted images of Bess Beetles on our site. Bess Beetles, also known as Bess Bug, Betsy Beetle or Bug, Patent Leather Beetle, Peg Beetle and Horned Passalus, are now reclassified as Odontotaenius disjunctus. According to BugGuide, other names have included: “Scarabaeus interruptus Linnaeus 1764
Passalus cornutus Fabricius 1801
Passalus distinctus Weber 1801
Passalus bos Kuwert 1891
Popilius disjunctus in much of the older literature ” Bess Beetles are quite interesting as they live in communities consisting of adults and grubs. BugGuide also indicates: “Lifestyle of this family is unique for beetles: live in small colonies where larvae are cared for by adults of both sexes. Long life cycle, apparently more than one year. Larvae eat a rotting wood prechewed by adults. (Some references state larvae eat feces of adults as well.) Larvae and adults also cannibalize injured larvae. … Both adults and larvae make noises by stridulation, and this is said to serve as communication between them. Adults also stridulate when picked up, and especially, blown on. Stridulation mechanism of adults by rubbing abdomen against the wings. Larvae stridulate with reduced third pair of legs–these scratch against other legs. ” Bess Beetles are in the Family
Passalidae which is part of the superfamily Scarabaeoidea that incluces Scarab, Stag and Bess Beetles.

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