A Study Of Sexual Obsession
When J and I arrived home from Tuscany, about a month ago, we were greeted by a great mound of logs and tree trunks – our annual supply of subsidised villagers’ firewood. Amongst the heap were five huge bits of huge trees – getting them reduced down to something that could actually be made to fit in the wood shed, let alone the hearth, was a daunting prospect. (It would also prove to be painful with a torn tendon from too much sledge-hammer swinging – the logging equivalent of ‘fiddler’s elbow’ or ‘housewife’s knee’, I suppose.)
Anyway, I digress! Whilst splitting these big, old lumps of wood I was amazed to be finding a lot of great, fat grubs about the size of my thumb tunneling through them. Being a bit of a softy I collected the grubs, reintroduced them to their bit of log and then carefully stacked them into boxes where they can get on with the business of being grubs undisturbed.
impossible not to love these guys
At some point they will do their transformational thing and turn into something completely different. Meanwhile, they need to get in all the scoffing they can . . . but more of that later.
What we have here are the grubs of an outstanding athlete – a world-class weightlifter and an obsessive-compulsive ‘Don Juan’ in the sex stakes. Meet Oryctes nasicornis – the European Rhinoceros Beetle; gram-for-gram the strongest creature on the planet!
Oryctes nasicornis – the European Rhinoceros Beetle (male) (photo from biolib.cz)
There are a few hundred different species of Rhino Beetles on planet Earth; they have names like ‘Elephant’ and ‘Goliath’, every one of them is a hard case that knows its own strength and has an ego to match! Regardless of size and species they are capable of carrying 850 times their body-weight without so much as a knee-tremble to be seen! That’s like your average human humping 60 tonnes on their back and wandering off through the leaf-mold!
So much for the weightlifting bit, what about the obsessive-compulsive lover-boy bit? Here we return to the business of ‘scoff’ and ‘scoffing’. (These words are said to have originated from British ‘Tommies’ during WW1 after the great French chef August Escoffier. I say this here because a dear friend ‘over the pond’ always has a question re: British idioms).
a bunch of Irish ‘Tommy Atkins’ – ‘Tommies’ 1916 (Imperial War Museum)
Rhinoceros Beetles need to tuck into the grub whilst they are grubs because come ‘hatching’ time, when those pheromones kick in, obsessive-compulsive sounds pretty tame! Rhino Beetles have just one thought on their minds – getting stuck into a bit of practical, hands-on reproduction and they’ll tolerate no obstacles or rivals. Such is their determination to fill every last minute of their lives with ‘rumpy-pumpy’ that they have evolved to do without food. They subsist on the reserves that they build up as grubs and when that expires so do they! They actually get to fulfill that global, cross-cultural male fantasy – to die on the job! Now that is Really Horny!
male and female from my collection – both bereft of life; not sure if it was on the job, or not, but you can see they’ve been getting down and dirty!
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü