Posts Tagged ‘click beetle’

I threw my arms up into the air and said “WHAAAAA”!  I had been resting in the shade after a couple of hours of junk scavenging when I heard this low vibrating sound and the bump of something landing on my head.  Reflexively, I knocked off whatever was on my noggin and it fell to the ground…and this is what I saw.

This is the Eastern Eyed Click Beetle or Big Eyed Click Beetle, (Alaus oculatus).  It’s one of my favorite indigenous beetles and one I’ve seen at the Falls of the Ohio on numerous occasions.  As beetles go, this one is on the large side approaching two inches or about five centimeters in length.  Getting smacked in the head by one certainly surprised me, but it turned out to be a good one.  I love the cryptic bird dropping coloring and those two large eye spots get your attention!  After the beetle recovered its senses, it flew and landed on a dead tree trunk right behind where I was sitting.  It turned and started walking down the tree towards the ground.

I watched as the beetle lowered the tip of its abdomen at the base of this dead tree.  I’m hoping it might be laying an egg or two.  When it was done, it walked back up the tree trunk before flying off for the next tree or head that catches its fancy.

I was rummaging around one of the driftwood mounds for whatever secrets it was carrying and to separate out materials for the river sweep clean up.  Nearby, was the beginnings of another garbage pile that someone else had started.  I decided to throw my junk into this lot to consolidate it and make the removal just a bit easier.

It was the usual lot.  A few plastic 55 gallon drums, a bit of hurricane fencing, tires, and a palette or two were among the larger items that were deposited here by the last flood.

Of course how these things came to be in the river is another story.  It’s amazing what our kind can tolerate and consider acceptable.  I suppose this represents the collateral damage we are willing to endure to support our ultra consumptive way of life.  It makes me want to retch! I think this partly explains why so much of this trash is colorful.  If we have to look at it…it might as well be pretty.  When I finished up in this area I moved on like the click beetle did to new surroundings.  There is no shortage of trash out here.  After this Spring’s floods there is also an abundance of coal gravel and coal chunks in the eastern section of the park.  Here’s an example.

The Falls of the Ohio is famous for its fossils, but this black rock wasn’t originally a part of the geologic scene here.  More than likely, this piece of coal was removed from the top of a mountain in Eastern Kentucky and shipped by barge to this area to be burned in a plant to produce electricity.  For some reason, this and many other pieces of coal got into the river where they were tumbled and ground to bits.  In case you were wondering…coal does not float.

In places the coal gravel was several inches thick and reminded me of the black beaches made of volcanic sand.  Also interspersed on this river bank were many automotive tires.  I couldn’t help but associate the coal with the tires and I began to combine both of these elements in this landscape.  Here’s a picture of me in action.

Walking around in this area, I found enough large coal pieces to fill a tire.  Doing this was highly addictive for me.  Here I was picking up real chunks of fossil fuel to place inside a circle that itself is made from fossil fuels in an area that’s well-known for its Devonian Age fossils.  How all these things affect or reference life made my head swim more than the actual heat and humidity.  When I finished filling one tire…this is how it looked.

And now, for an aerial view.

To me, this looks like some kind of unusual and bizarre fire pit ready to go.  Scientists have already established that “burning rubber” and coal are contributing to the excess amounts of heat, energy, and toxins now found throughout many of the Earth’s systems.  In Kentucky, the coal debate is a complex one.  We have an abundance of coal, but it comes at a dear price to the land and the people who call the coal fields home.  The sun is getting hot and I have already had a busy day watching fishermen and making sand drawings!  For now, I will have to leave the coal debate where it is, but I’m sure to return to it since there is so much coal here at the Falls.  It will remain here until the forces that shape this planet decide otherwise.

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