National Geographic : 1959 May
Voracious Megasoma Grubs Chew a Hardwood's Heart to Sawdust Matamata trees in the Brazilian rain forest harbor the enormous blue-white grubs. Tunneling through the trunk, the immature beetles thrive on the woody diet for several months. Senhor Elias collects specimens in a tree felled by the woodcutter at left. 10-year-old Antonio, son of a Brazilian mine employee, as he saw me gazing wistfully up at the sky. This handsome barefoot lad had ac companied me as net carrier on a number of my wanderings around Serra do Navio (pages 648 and 663). To my reply of "Rain and big besouros [beetles]," Antonio looked only puzzled. Why did this norte americano wish to change so happy a condition as clear, dry weather and bug-free evenings? Yet Antonio was truly delighted with the elephant beetles we found here and there. These bulky black specimens of Megasoma actaeon-adults of blue-white scarab grubs 664 such as I had found near Manaus-were a bit more than four inches long, with the male pos sessing a grotesque horn, hard as ivory, curv ing frontwards and upwards from the forehead (page 662). Another consolation prize was a preserved 5-inch-long Titanus caught the year before and kindly presented to me by Antonio Moraes, a company employee. I accepted it gratefully, but it was clear that my hopes for living Titanus had been rudely upset by failure of the rains to arrive on schedule. That this was big-beetle country there could be no ques tion. But when would the wet season begin, so that they would start flying?