Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Can You Identify this Bug?

As cabin craziness descended, stuck in-doors at the in-laws while 'the blizzard' caused the NFL (in its infinite 'wusiness') to cancel the Philadelphia Eagles game, I staved off boredom for a few seconds by scrolling through the farrago of photographs on my BlackBerry. There I found the snapshot I got of this creep back in late October with the intention of figuring out what the fuck it was:

So, cloud, any ideas? I went through the easily-available bug identifiers on the Web and have a few maybes (iron clad beetle, oak borer) but all with fatal flaws. So I'm hoping to crowd-source an entomologist for an official taxonomy. Since I don't know one (an entomologist) and if you're generally a fan of advancing knowledge, indulging curiosity or testing the networking power of the Web, your assistance would be appreciated.

Though it would be a fitting prey for such a prehistoric parasite, that's not woolly mammoth pelt in the background of the photo. Which brings me to my next point on the vexing duality of the flokati rug. Think carefully before you indulge in one.

As for pros, flokatis are awesome to look at in both chocolatey brown or creamy white shag varieties and feature miraculously luxurious tufts of wool. Mine at 13' by 9' is great for warming up a drafty, hard-floored apartment and feels great on bare feet.

As for cons, flokatis are heavy as shit (just imagine skinning a woolly mammoth) and tend to shed such that my apartment rather than having traditional dust bunnies has 'flokati bunnies' thriving, reproducing and advancing towards culture in the nooks and crannies. The flokati-maker advised of this risk saying it wears off in a few years and can be helped along with regular raking of the flokati. So I bought a little kid rake at Target and bust it out when the mood strikes to tend my flokati. But we're about a year and half in and I still get rich harvests of wool when I rake it and the natural shedding still produces weekly armies of flokati bunnies, which need collection and management of their own.

Beyond that, the rug is dark and mysterious and its character stretches in this direction thanks to the difficulty of really getting in there and cleaning the thing. The wool is 5 inches deep in places and thick like natty dreads. Stuff falls in and never emerges and I have suspicions of an ecosystem evolving in its depths sort of like the benthic layers of the ocean where nutrients drift down in the form of dead whales and stuff and get consumed in the way of the one thing the Protestant could appreciate about the Indian - scarcity enforcing an economy where nothing gets wasted.

Hence this creeper, and its decided predatory appearance, hunting the thickets of my flokati was disturbing on a number of levels. Most ominously what it leaves to the imagination. If I found this fiend on the surface, what lurks below?


  1. Hey, Nate! Interestingly, your site was flagged on my google alerts because of the phrase "wolly mammoth", which is something I'm trying to learn more about.

    As luck would have it, I'm a graduate student working with fire ants. Though technically a geneticist myself, my adviser is an entomologist.

    I can tell you for sure that it's not an oak borer.
    Other than that, I can't say much of anything. Do you still have access to the beast? That picture probably won't cut it for an ID. I mean, I'm no coleopterist, but I'm not absolutely convinced from the picture that it's even a beetle.

    Good luck!
    -Mark F.

  2. oops. Meant "woolly mammoth" there. Credibility and spelling correlate too strongly for their own good.

  3. I didn't capture the sample, being at the time more worried that it was dangerous I didn't want it around.