The Elaborate Plans of the Capricorn Beetle

 

The larva of the European Capricorn beetle (Cerambyx cerdo) is a tough little grub. It can and does tunnel through the heart of oak trees, and fattens on the sparse nourishment it finds in the fibers and juices of the living oak.

For three years this grub bores its way deep within its hardwood home, safe from hungry predators. But at the end of its appointed time, some trigger causes the larva to end its random foraging and tunnel its way out to the bark-to, but not through the bark, for it is not yet ready to emerge.

Having left but a thin veneer of concealment, the grub retreats to the interior and there prepares a sumptuous bedroom for its pupa stage. It hollows out a chamber three to four inches long, and lines it with raveled woody fibers fluffed soft as velvet.

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