“And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
Rove beetles are found in the rain forests of Costa Rica and have three different ways of making a living. Their largest prey are the blow flies that frequent animal dung. The beetles wait on the dung for a blowfly to land, then stalk their prey with the skill of a cat. They can even capture their prey in the air if it tries to escape. But dung doesn’t last long in the rain forest, because dung beetles quickly haul it off. So, as a second career, rove beetles also frequent corpses of dead animals. These are blowfly favorites, so rove beetles can make a good living on these, too. But the rain forest has many creatures that clean up after a corpse, so they don’t last long on the forest floor either. The rove beetle thus needs a third career.
That third career is carried out on leaves. Flies have little incentive to visit leaves. So the rove beetle has a special strategy to succeed in its third career. First, it positions itself on the leaf so that it looks like an innocent bird dropping. but smells like ripe and rotting fruit. This attracts fruit flies, which will approach the rove beetle unaware until it is snatched for lunch.
While the rove beetle and its way of life are not attractive to us, it is an important part of the cleanup crew in the rain forest. It, too, is part of God’s design to make His complex Creation work.
Dear Father, I praise You because everything You do is good. Amen.
“Masters of Deception,” Natural History, 11/94, pp.18 23. Photo: Rove beetle. Courtesy of © Entomart.