Oh! To be a Bug!

Poseidon’s Descendant

We discovered an orange bug crawling on our tablecloth as we sat down to a Thai dinner in Krabi. 

The bug scuttled right on top of a swath of orange and white gingham. 

The beetle had an orange-winged back and black head, and what made its visage most striking was the super long antennae. 

I played a bit with the beetle, as it marched up and down my hand, and then I gently lifted it onto the small vase of yellow chrysanthemums on the table.

The beetle soon rested and began grooming.

It began with its antennae, pulling at the right one with two fore arms and then the left. 

The beetle started at the base and then moved its arms down to the top of the antennae. 

The bug then cleaned its hind legs, two on the right side, and one on the left. 

So the critter had five appendages, missing a sixth on its left side.

The beetle posed for several photos and remained our dinner companion all evening.

The orange critter is likely a member of the Cerambycidae: the longhorn beetle (but the web says the “cosmopolitan family” is hard to distinguish from the Chrysomelidae–the leaf beetle–like a ladybug.)

Our cosmopolitan dinner guest–whomI believe to be a long horned beetle–is named for the Greek descendent of Poseidon.

Cerambus–grandson of Poseidon and the son of Euseiros and a nymph, Eidothea, was a shepherd with a sweet singing voice, according to Wikipedia.

Cerambus grew arrogant, according to the legend, and dishonored the nymphs who cared for him.

So the nymphs changed him into a beetle, whose name Cerambycidae honors Cerambus.

Gregor Samsa suffered a similar transformation in Frank Kafka’s 1915 book, Verwandlung, or Metamorphosis

Gregor awoke one morning to find himself an insect, which novelist Vladimir Nabokov (an entomologist) insisted was not a cockroach but a flying beetle, not unlike the orange bug on our dinner table. 

Although Kafka’s character suffered greatly as a result of his mutation, our dinner guest seemed at perfect ease.

17 March 2017

Krabi, Thailand

Image of Kafka’s Metamorphosis from Tablet magazine

[Please forgive misspellings I am unable to correct]





About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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