A Fun-Loving Guide to the Natural World for Kids and Adults

The Gold Bug

In Poe’s ‘The Gold Bug’, it is a strange gold beetle that lies at the heart of the tale.  This story haunted me from youth, always suggesting that there was something hidden and secret — some great treasure — and that a still-undiscovered mystery of nature might hold the key to uncovering it.

The other day, while seeking morels in the nearby forests, my mother pointed out just such a beetle — a swift-moving creature that defied my attempts to capture it long enough to get a photo.  Only after a few minutes of both of us scurrying about did the beetle hesitate long enough for Rebecca to capture a still image.

Every time I venture out into nature, there are discoveries like this.  I’m not an expert on birds, and it’s easy for me to spot a bird I can’t identify.  I’m not an expert on plants, and many of the woodland leaves and prairie flowers are still undiscovered, unnamed in my world.  Mushrooms pose similar mysteries, and the world of insects is perhaps the most enigmatic of all, for it only takes a few moments of walking about the yard or poking under old logs before I unearth something completely new.

Each of these is a treasure, and in a way, each points to the next.  This strange, gold-spotted beetle who rested for a brief moment in my hands might as well be tied to a string, leading me on to ever-more curious explorations of swamps, tree-tops, ponds, and hillsides.  In nature, there are treasures everywhere, and what can be more grand than sharing such explorations with those we love, and with the friends we’ve made in life?

May your own Gold Bugs lead you to yet-unimagined treasures.

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13 Responses to “The Gold Bug”

  1. My sentiments, exactly! All these fascinating plants and creatures right here all around us! And what a beautiful bug you found! Thanks for showing it to us. Do you know what it’s called? Did you see the brilliant green Tiger Beetles on my blog? A jeweler couldn’t make anything more beautiful.

  2. Hello Jackie!

    Isn’t it simply amazing? How lucky we all are =) Your Tiger Beetles truly are more gorgeous than any gemstone — how can anything be so GREEN? And we loved the dead millipede. That’s one of the things we really appreciate about your blog — the variety you present. It’s like taking a walk in the woods and fields! We’ve added you to our ‘Awesome Nature Blogs’ blogroll, by the way.

    Keep up the awesome blogging, and thanks for the wonderful comment!

  3. One of the caterpillar hunters - the bright golden elytral spots suggest the fiery hunter, Calosoma calidum. Really though, it almost doesn’t even matter what its name is - it’s just a beautiful beetle!

  4. Hello Ted — Thanks so much for stopping in and letting us know who this is. Caterpillar hunters — what an exciting beetle occupation. We checked them out on Google — it looks like an extremely bright and beautiful group!

  5. This is one species that I am not too keen on. I have always been somewhat afraid of the beetle family. I am not usre why except that as a child, we always had Japanese Beetles around the flowers and my mother always put out traps. They would buzz around and land on everything in sight. I am in awe of the beauty of the creature, but you won’t catch me holding one like this.

  6. Hi Nicole —

    Very understandable. We have June bugs hatching right now, and they are out mostly at night. They fly willy-nilly toward light sources, and if they land on you they cling quite tenaciously. It can be rather frightening if you’re not expecting it =) And a lot of beetles have that ‘clinginess’ to them, which can make you feel like you’ve been grabbed by something much bigger and more aggressive than the beetle really is. The colors and patterns of these creatures are simply magnificent, however, and it’s certainly fun to check them out up-close to see their details. No actual handling is required, however =)

  7. How beautifully put. I write a nature blog and am not an expert in anything - I just want to share the wonder, follow my own trail of discovery and hopefully encourage others to follow their own trail too. I am absolutely thrilled to find your blog and read this post which puts in a nutshell how I feel about going out with open eyes and mind. I delight in using the lovely things I see to educate myself more, but almost everything I see right now is still an unexplained wonder. I can’t tell you how good it feels to find someone else doing the same thing.

  8. Dear Bird,

    Thank you so much for connecting. We’ve just begun visiting your lovely blog and your great shop — Way to Go inspiring people to explore nature and chase their dreams!

    We greatly appreciate experts, and are always thrilled to learn more from experts in their fields, but like you we’re not really experts at anything in particular, and find that our best talent is helping people to get passionate about exploring their lives, their relationship to nature, and the essence of their dreams. We’re also excited to find someone who shares this vision! We got home very late tonight after a quest to see one of the elusive Timber Rattlers of Wisconsin (we didn’t see one, but we did hear one rattle quite close to us — exciting!), but tomorrow we will add you to our Awesome Nature Blogs blogroll. We’re honored to have you visiting Wild About Nature, and are excited to follow your adventures!

  9. Connecticut is a long way from Wisconsin. Discovery in the natural world shortens that distance. I share my discovery with readers at curiousaboutnature.blogspot.com

  10. Hello Joyanne,

    Thanks for sharing your site =)

  11. Can anyone please tell me witch of the Carabus species is the one that forms a little venomous spit ball and shuts it right in your eye after holding it in your hand aprox. 10 seconds? This is not a myth and I know this for a fact because it took me a while until I understood what was happening ,every time I played with them in my garden when I was a teenager.It even happened to my dog after one time he sniffed it (I guess somehow he has in its instinct to spit exactly at the shiny eyes).I used to find them in the ground , I know I’m not confusing the bug - it looks a lot like Carabus clatratus, and perhaps it is just that even though some say it only lives in Ireland.I live in the western part of Romania.

  12. Many species of carabids, especially the large basal ones in the tribes Carabini and Anthiini, can squirt defensive secretions from their paired pygidial glands. Species of Anthia in South Africa are amusingly called “oogpisters” (eye pissers) because of this ability. Even Darwin, in his autobiography, describes an early experience with this during a collecting trip to Ireland:

    A Cychrus rostratus [now Cychrus caraboides once squirted into my eyes and gave me extreme pain; and I must tell you what happened to me on the banks of the Cam, in my early entomological days: under a piece of bark I found two Carabi (I forget which), and caught one in each hand, when lo and behold I saw a sacred Panagæus crux major! I could not bear to give up either of my Carabi, and to lose Panagæus was out of the question; so that in despair I gently seized one of the Carabi between my teeth, when to my unspeakable disgust and pain the little inconsiderate beast squirted his acid down my throat, and I lost both Carabi and Panagæus!

  13. Hello Ted — thanks for the informative and amusing response! What a great story of Darwin’s. My sister-in-law, Max, would have wagged her finger at him and said ‘You shouldn’t get greedy!’ She inevitably does this just prior to one suffering a mishap such as Darwin’s and losing everything you’ve been collecting . . .

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