By Russell Miller
Pinacate beetles, also known as “stink bugs” live primarily west of the Mississippi. They are generally black and have leathery wing-covers overlaying delicate flight wings, which are never used. Most insectivores avoid them because of their stench secreted when threatened. Assuming a head down, butt up position, they present a sticky series of droplets or spray (up to 20 inches away!) which quickly changes the mind of their pursuer. The Grasshopper Mouse (a truly carnivorous rodent) however, has learned to grab the stinkbug, jam its behind in the dirt, (neutralizing its defense) and eating its head off before dining on the rest of the bug.
ODDLY ENOUGH – Grasshopper mice actively stalk and kill other rodents as well as scorpions, crickets and beetles. They are aggressive, territorial and voracious. They communicate over long distances by howling, like miniature coyotes. Their pure-tone cry is even audible to humans.
Russell Miller is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, bagpiper, motorcycle enthusiast, and former reference librarian. Currently, he illustrates books for Cody Lundin and Bart King.