<< Previous Next >>

Oil Cow - "Truck Beetle"

Oil Cow -
Photo Information
Copyright: Monika MvJ (thistle) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1309 W: 74 N: 3014] (9282)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-04
Categories: Insects
Camera: Sony DCR-HC14E, Carl Zeiss
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Beetles and Bugs of the world (Chapter 2) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2005-04-26 8:41
Viewed: 6414
Points: 34
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Oil Cow is Polish name of this very exceptional beetle. In original it sounds Oleica Krowka, and the latin name is Meloe proscarabaeus. In English speaking countries it is called Oil Beetle.

I think it is one of the most interesting insects that live in Poland.

Here's some facts:
-> This are quite large beetles (even to 5 cm in lenght) with characteristic look that reminds me a big, american truck hence the title.
-> Only females are so big in size cause their swelled body is full of eggs (counted in thousands).
On the three of my photos you can see females with eggs and on the right-bottom is a male. The diference is well visible.
-> Why "oil" beetle?
Like many other beetles they produce stinking liquid that is a kind of weapon against enemies. It not only stinks, but is also poisonous ( 30 mg of it can kill a grown man).
On the left-top photo you can see the drop of this liquid. It is released from glands on the insects legs.
-> The oil beetles are a family of beetles that share a fascinating life-cycle in which the larvae are parasites of certain bees or grasshoppers. This life cycle is extremaly complicated.
The larvae are parasites of a number of species of ground-nesting solitary bee. Towards the end of spring, female oil beetles dig burrows in the ground close to colonies of host bees, into which they lay around 1000 eggs. These eggs usually hatch the following year in order to coincide with the emergence of the bees. The oil beetle larvae are very active, and climb up onto flowers where they wait for a host bee. They attach themselves to the bee, and if they are lucky and attach to the right type of species they will be flown to the host’s burrow, where the tringulin oil beetle turns into a grub-like larva, and develops, feeding upon the pollen stores and eggs of the host. The larva pupates and the resulting adult beetle spends the winter inside the host’s burrow before emerging the following spring.

This kind of life cycle is one of the main reasons of rarity of this species. Only few insects that hatch from thousands of eggs will reach their adult form. In many countries they are rare and therefore under protection.

Some more about photos:
On one of it you can see two beetles. As I found out in internet only females are "swelled", so I have a problem. Or this info is false, or something strange is going on between these two ;-)
Maybe some of you know something in this matter?

LordPotty, dew77, aktolga, Runnerduck, Comandante, red45, hvr_oosterzele, liquidsunshine, PDP, sandpiper2, TAZ, Signal-Womb has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To red45: great infosandpiper2 1 04-27 02:06
To red45: A questionPDP 2 04-26 16:58
To red45: Answers ;-)thistle 2 04-26 13:46
To LordPotty: Thanksthistle 1 04-26 09:12
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • ddg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 867 W: 24 N: 1008] (5507)
  • [2005-04-26 8:47]

Super montage Monica et excellente note digne d'une entomologiste (la profession disparait !!). Féficitations Didier.

This is a really good post Monika.
A very unusual beetle and very good notes.
Your presentation in the boxes is good (although it is the top left,not bottom left that has the drop of liquid)
I've never heard of this beetle before,so once again I've learned something. Thanks for posting it.

Beautiful photos Monika ! I really like it with the 4 pictures.
Very good note !

A great concept. The details are really strong, each image would work really well on it's own. My fav is top left.
A great post, thanks for sharing.

Superb shots and very good presentation!
I liked this photo very much.Thanks for sharing!

Fascinating and informative as always, well done.

Another nice presentation Monika,
Very informative note as always. Well detailed and sharp images in all 4.
Excellent captures, Thanks for posting

  • Great 
  • naki Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 382 W: 27 N: 5] (40)
  • [2005-04-26 15:24]

Very good shots Monika. Presentation is inspiring. This is really "learning nature through photography".
Great note too.

Very good post Monica,
Very very good note.
Combination of the boxes are excellent.



Great shots, great composition and presentation. Fasinating notes. Great POV on top left shot.

  • Great 
  • TAZ Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2241 W: 47 N: 3167] (10926)
  • [2005-04-27 2:34]

Beau et intéressant montage photographique. Jolies couleurs et bonne netteté.
Interesting & Well Done !

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2005-04-27 2:56]

Superb photos and perfect presentation Monika!
All of them are sharp detailed.Excellent work.

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9100] (31094)
  • [2005-04-27 2:57]
  • [2] [+]

Fascinating note about fascinating beetle Monika! I've never heard before that such beast live in our country :-) Very poisonous indeed - do you know what kind of poison is it producing? Maybe some kind of neurotoxin? Also, I'm courious why bees don't attack those parasites? Photos are very good, upper left with drop of poison is the best. Couple on upper right corner looks like little perverts ;-)

I don't know why but info about toxins and its effects fascinate me ;-)

Cantharidin is highly toxic by ingestion, but can also be taken up through the skin and mucous membranes. The poisoning is called cantharidism and can consist of severe gastrointestinal disturbances and nephritis. Collapse occurs in several cases and death might follow.

A consumption of 1.6g of pulverized beetles containing the toxin led to death after 26 hours. Ten mg of pure cantharidin resulted in a fatality, whereas poisoning by 1.3mg did not (Davidson, 1987). Cantharidin is excreted by the kidney and will during excretion irritate the entire urinary tract. The irritation of the urethra will increase the blood flow to this region and might result in priapism, a persistent abnormal erection of the penis (Metcalf, 1962). It is likely that the priapism is the origin of the use of Spanish fly as an aphrodisiac.


  • Great 
  • PDP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 2821 W: 344 N: 3779] (11769)
  • [2005-04-27 7:05]

Hello Monika, very nice series of shots. Each one is very good and provides a very good idea of what this beast loks like from all angles. It's great you managed to capture these especially as you explain that they are seldom seen. The note is great. Thanks for sharing.

  • Great 
  • puciu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 469 W: 0 N: 16] (2631)
  • [2005-04-27 10:23]

Wspania³a seria Moniko. Ciekawy owad, bardzo dobrze sfotografowany.

Fantastic post Monika both in picture quality, note and presentation, great job on this.

  • Great 
  • ronanj (10)
  • [2005-05-26 6:34]

chouette montage, pédagogique et bien renseigné par la note

bravo pour le travail et l'info passée

Calibration Check