Violet Oil Beetles

In Bridford Wood there are glades and clearings full of wild daffodils. As I meander around them, stepping on Ramsons and sniffing the resulting stench of garlic, I can see Violet Oil Beetles, Meloe violaceus, glinting among them like jewels.

Violet Oil Beetle - Bridford Wood - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Violet Oil Beetles have the most extraordinary life: They gorge themselves on Wild Celandine until they get enormously fat and then lay their eggs in small holes which the females dig in the ground.

Violet Oil Beetle - Bridford Wood - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The grubs which subsequently hatch climb up flower stems onto the flowers where they sit and wait to catch a ride on a mining bee visiting the flowers for nectar and pollen.

Violet Oil Beetle - Bridford Wood - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Back at the bee’s nest, the beetle grubs then eat the food collected by the bees for their own grubs.

Violet Oil Beetle - Bridford Wood - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

That’s an amazing lifecycle.

Much of life is connected in ways still mysterious to science, and many species are threatened by the disappearance of just one. Removing natural, wild flower-rich, meadows and grazing with cattle and sheep, poisoning with herbicides, killing bees with insecticides; all these have knock-on effects more complex than the most complex computer model can predict.

At least here, safe for now, in this tiny wild oasis, Violet Oil Beetles can live out their complex, extraordinary lives.

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