Being a farm site with a reasonably sized lake, our camp site and Fanjeaux is home to a diverse collection of wildlife. The lake currently has a family of mallards, a family of coots and some frustrating little grebes that insist on diving beneath the surface whenever a camera appears. The lake is also teeming with dragonflies and damselflies of various colours.
Every now and then non-resident wildlife drops in for a while or passes through very briefly. A couple of days ago we were invaded by a plague of metallic-looking, iridescent beetles. Depending upon the light, they appeared either bronze or green but in any case were very attractive. As yet we’ve been unable to identify the beetles in our insect book so I can’t put a name to them. Their size seemed to vary tremendously, with some being about twice the size of others.
The main trees on this site are formerly very large poplars, now having been seriously pollarded by farmer Luc. In between the poplars are what we think are small ash trees, 6-10 feet (2-3 mtrs) tall. It was the ash trees that were attracting the attention of the iridescent beetles. The beetles were merrily munching the edges of the leaves, very much as caterpillars do. Some of the beetles began copulating back to back though they appeared to keep eating while they were engaged in sex – very rude, even for a beetle, I’d have thought.
Beetles aren’t great fliers, often, and these seemed to be flying tail down forming a kind of crucifix shape in the air as they buzzed about a small tree next to us. Always interested in pretty new wildlife, we snapped away happily and Francine managed a action shot of one flying.
A day or so after the invasion I glanced up at one of the taller ash trees, the first to be targeted by the beetles, and was horrified to notice how completely they had stripped its top branches. There wasn’t a leaf left in site. Mercifully, the beetles didn’t seem to destroy the lower branches’ leaves so we hope the tree will recover but it looks in a pretty sad state now.