A few days ago my daughter and I were exploring a small grassy area near our new apartment. We found greenish brown beetles crawling all over wild rose plants. There were probably at least eight or nine on one rose plant. I noticed many of them were coupling up, presumably mating. It was an insect orgy! This was great for photos because the beetles barely moved, except for a few leg twitches. (Watch a video of the bugs mating here.)
Once I got back home I was able to identify the beetles as American rose chafers. The beetles come out of the ground in late May and early June, feeding on plant material until late June, according to information from the University of Minnesota Extension. Females lay their eggs in the soil and that’s the end of their life cycle. A few weeks later, the eggs hatch into white larvae, which feed on the roots of grasses and other plants. They overwinter in the soil, below the frost line, and emerge in the spring to eat and mate like their parents did the summer before.
Adult rose chafers feed primarily on flower blossoms, such as roses. They also feed on the leaves of trees and other plants, such as grapes, apples and cherries. Gardeners are not a fan of the beetles and most of the information online is about how to kill them.
It makes me wonder, is there something good this insect does that we can’t see? It’s not that they are a food source for other creatures because rose chafers are actually toxic to birds and small animals.
The reason we were out there in the first place was that we caught a spider in our home and were walking to a spot to release it. We took quite a few photos. I thought perhaps it was a rabid wolf spider but I think it’s actually a Schizocosa mccooki, the strangest wolf spider name I’ve come across yet. If we hadn’t been out there to release the spider we never would have spotted the beetles all over the wild roses. After that a meadow plant bug landed on my shirt and happily hung out until I’d gotten plenty of photos.
The more I get into photography of insects and other tiny creatures, the more surprised I am by the diversity of what I’m finding. I grew up in Minnesota and I had no idea how many interesting and cool insects live in this state.
It reminds me of when my sister Katy was a little girl. We were talking about cheese and she chimed in that there were only three kinds of cheese: cheddar, “white cheese” and Velveeta. I laughed and said not only were there many, many more types of cheese but that one of her cheeses wasn’t even real cheese, it was a processed spread.
Same with me and insects. If you’d asked me to name the insects inhabitants of my home state I probably wouldn’t have gotten much further than listing off ticks, horseflies, house flies, bees, wasps and spiders. But there’s so much more.
So that was a fun and productive trip across the road. Photos and videos of three new-to-me bugs. I’ve been reading up on macro photography (I didn’t even know that’s what it was called up to a week ago) and I used some of the tips to get better photos of my subjects. Even within the limits of my equipment—all I have right now is my cell phone and no money to buy better equipment for a while—I can tell my research is helping me get better photos.
All photos by Holly Jessen
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