Chauliognathus lugubris

Chauliognathus lugubris: How I managed to use the term 'indulge in group sex' in a work-wide email

Here's my email to all staff in our Directorate (my partner says it's legendary):

Good afternoon all

A few of you have asked me about the dark green and orange beetles that are amassing around our building. They are commonly known as plague soldier beetles, Chauliognathus lugubris, otherwise known colloquially as “sex beetles”.

Chauliognathus   lugubris  |  John Tann/Wikimedia Commons  [ CC BY 2.0 ]

Chauliognathus lugubris | John Tann/Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0]

They are a native species and will not harm you or any plants they might be clinging to – aside from snapping a weak twig or two under their sheer weight. The adult form (which is what we are currently seeing) feed on flower nectar, while their larvae live underground and feed on small invertebrates.

The adults can, however, exude a white viscous fluid from their glands to repel predators. They can also secrete this same chemical in a wax form to protect their eggs against infection. This chemical has been found to have both anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties, and the CSIRO have been able to synthesise this in their labs, which might one day lead to the development of new antibiotics and cancer treatments.

The name “sex beetle” comes from the fact that they are, indeed, most likely copulating in your presence. That’s right – if you go and have a look at a cluster of these little critters, approximately 92% of the individuals are mating at any one time. They emerge in “plague” proportions for this very reason – to have lots of sex, lay their eggs and then die (or disperse). So, there’s no need to spray them or be afraid of them.

Please just let them live their brief lives, indulge in group sex, lay their eggs, and shuffle of this mortal coil in peace.