The Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle

Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle (Ocypus olens)

A group of Japanese visitors with sharper eyes than mine spotted this beetle just off the paved perimeter path and stopped to look at it.  I nosed in and saw a bug that I had not observed before. Back home with my photo, I had to view literally thousands of beetle images online before getting a hit.  A photographer named Ken-ichi Ueda snapped a picture of this beetle in Pacifica on April 14, 2006, and posted it on his Flickr page, from where Google Images picked it up.  I like his commentary:

“They may be non-native, they may be common, but the devil’s coach horse is still awesome. It’s in the family Staphylinidae, but I’m not sure if the current name is Ocypus olensStaphylinus olens, or Tasgius sp, all of which I’ve seen out there. I understand that when not chaufeuring the Prince of Darkness, this little beastie dines on smaller bugs and rotting flesh. When it gets mad, it bear its jaws, arches its abdomen, and, if truly agitated, squirts out stinky white fluid. Yay.”

This beetle is also part of the Grounds Check of the California Academy of Sciences, observed there on May 9, 2015.   And it has its own Wikipedia page, which maintains that this beetle is very common.  However, I’ve never seen it before.  Another gift from Mother Nature on Thanksgiving.  


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