Last weekend Red and I were working in my backyard on a project (yes, I know, this story is beginning like many others do...) Not unlike the Yellow-Crowned-Night-Herons that attempt to take up annual residence in my neighbor's yard, I heard it before I saw it. My head whipped around, my eyes frantically searching for what was making the sound before whatever it was found me -- and I spied it, flying right for me -- eye level, bottom heavy -- I shrieked and ran, tripping on a loose brick on the way -- and then it landed in my wet paint:
It was as large as my thumb - clearly nearly too bottom heavy to fly horizontally, and perhaps too large all together to be airborne.
I tentatively circled it. Stared at it, got brave and moved closer and photographed it. Wondered what in the heck was in my yard now?
I emailed the photo to Randy Johnson at Texas Discovery Gardens. He fowarded my email to John Watts (Insect Specialist / Entomologist) at the Gardens. And here's the reply:
This is a Eyed Elater, Alaus oculatus, a type of click beetle. Adults may take some nectar and plant juices. The larvae are predatory, eating grubs of wood-boring beetles like cerambycids (longhorns). They are active from April till June.
He makes it sound so benign.