This Week’s Creature Feature ... Eastern Eyed Click Beetles
Snapping a spine under their thorax helps Eastern eyed click beetles turn right side up. It also gives them part of their odd name, which describes the loud click made by their flipping maneuver.
The eye in the name comes from the two white eyespots on the tops of their upper bodies. These eyes make the beetle look a bit like the head of a snake, to scare away predators. If that fails, it has a couple of other tricks.
One trick is playing dead, curling up its legs and saw-toothed antennae until a predator loses interest. If the predator is persistent and flips the beetle onto its back or tries to snatch it up, the beetle uses another trick.
Lying on its back, it can bend the front part of its body backward and suddenly recoil into a straightened-out position. This motion produces a click to startle the attacker and hurls the beetle several inches into air, possibly enabling it to get away.
Ideally, it lands upright and hurries off through the leaves and grass to a hiding place. If the beetle lands on its back again, it repeats the maneuver until it rights itself.
I found one resting in the shade on a rotting tree stump in the woods surrounding my back yard: not surprising, as their habitat is deciduous forests and woodlands.
Summer’s scorching temperatures send them searching for shady, cool respites.