So, my friend Ted MacRae over at the Beetles in the Bush blog, did a fascinating (and by fascinating I mean, very in-depth, “keep your scientific dictionary right beside you”) post on a species of click beetle. And although I sometimes feel like an imposter while reading his blog, around the scientific words he successfully weaves in excitement about whatever his subject might be (see Beetles) that keeps you coming back for more.
To make a long story short, I have some click beetles of my own at my house. You probably do too. We’ve all seen them; those long, black beetles that ‘pop’ whenever you pick them up, in order to escape capture. But I have also noticed that a click beetle that seemed fine when I picked it up, suddenly has its legs pulled in in the familiar death pose.
And so, this brings me to today’s word, Thanatosis.
Thanatosis is when an insect plays dead in order to avoid predators. Many animals do it too — opossums, some species of brown snake, some fish. Even teenagers sometimes do it when faced with angry parents. But in the insect world, there are quite a few species that do this. Some species of beetle, ant, spider (arachnids), grasshopper, damselfy and bee all do it. I’ve even noticed it in many species of moth.
So, today’s challenge is for you to use ‘thanatosis’ correctly in a conversation. Let me know how you go in the comments below!
Also, for a great read on click beetles, how they click and thanatosis, visit Ted’s blog HERE.