An Embarrassment of Riches

“All that is gold, does not glitter…” ~ J. R. R. Tolkien


Comments always are welcome. Thanks to Blaine Mathison at BugGuide.Net for the identification of the beetle: a member of the genus Strigoderma. The flower is Argemone albiflora, the white prickly poppy.


42 thoughts on “An Embarrassment of Riches

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Vicki. I debated about the lens for some time, simply because of the cost. Now that I’ve seen what it can do, and experienced how it can help me explore all parts of the world I’ve never seen, I wouldn’t be without it.

    1. Hasn’t he, though? There were several of these beetles arrayed across a colony of the poppies, and they all were equally busy. Not all were pollinating, though. There will be more about that later!

  1. White prickly poppies are a great source of enjoyment for insects and for people of the photographic persuasion.

    The saying about gold goes way back:

    Logicians quibble with the modern English wording, which logically should follow the Latin model: Not all that glitters is gold. The common English version, with its misplaced negative, amounts to saying that nothing that glitters is gold.

    1. This photo came from the same colony that allowed for my white-poppy-against-blue-sky photos. Once I wore myself out with that, I started looking more closely at the flowers, and was amazed by the number of insects roaming around: beetles, spiders, flies, bees.

      The article you linked mentioned something I didn’t know: that “glisters” is a 17th-century synonym for “glitters.” It made me think of “glisten,” and it was interesting to trace both “glitter” and “glisten” back to the same root. While both can refer to gold, they describe quite different qualities.

      This gold dust doesn’t glitter or glisten, of course. Just don’t tell the beetle.

  2. Great shot! This looks like a pretty happy guy, showing real stamina.
    The same thing happens to me, when I eat graham crackers. When I get home, I’m going to make some saffron rice.

    1. Those stamens do have the color of saffron, don’t they? I’d never looked at saffron flowers before, and they’re quite pretty. As for the beetle, I have a couple of other photos of him heading for the edge of the flower, and looking rather like a 2 a.m. drunk staggering out of a bar. I think he’d had a very good time.

  3. Great pic that shows a bug up to its head and legs in pollen. My mother often used that old quote. She would say, “all that glitters is not gold.” And she was so right about that. Outward appearances are often deceiving. I think this old adage is very true today.

    1. I remember hearing that saying too, Yvonne. It’s a little bit of wisdom that certainly does apply today. Be that as it may, I suspect our little beetle felt like it had come upon real treasure. I saw so many of these on the poppies I wondered if the poppy might be a host plant for them, like milkweed is for milkweed bugs. I did a quick search using the flower name, but nothing turned up. I’ll have to give it another try.

    1. Thanks, Tina. Don’t you love those little shepherd’s crook-like tips on the stamens? They’re almost as much fun as the “Cheetos dust” on the petals.

    1. i’m glad it was “almost,” Debbie. I’ve read discussions about the possibility of communicating scent through internet images. That would be great, as long as allergic reactions don’t come with them! This one does look like a sneeze-producer, doesn’t it?

    1. He’s being true to his nature, isn’t he? I haven’t been able to find much about the beetle’s behavor, but I did read that the genus contains “diurnal and nocturnal feeders of foliage and fruit.” I suspect this one’s gathering pollen in the process of dining on the plant. I think I have some evidence of that tucked away in my image files.

    1. Thanks, Gary. I’m really enjoying these up close and personal looks at the world of flowers. There’s a lot more going on than I ever imagined.

  4. You made quite a catch here, Linda. I’m having a lot of trouble with my new ‘aim & click’ camera to focus on macro – I’d never be able to do this!!

    1. I had the same experience, GP. After my previous camera died, I got a point-and-shoot just to get me by until I made a decision about a permanent replacement, and even though I thought the images were fine, I can do much more with this lens. Once I learn how to really use the thing, it’ll be great!

    1. The photo I submitted to BugGuide for an ID is a little different. It shows the beetle’s antennae far better. Even though they aren’t identical, they reminded me of the Teletubbies.

      I did think the image and quotation fit well together. I’m glad you enjoyed the pairing, Pete.

    1. Both of us were embarrassed by riches, Lynn. The beetle got the pollen, and I got the beetle. He was a messy eater, though. I’d never seen one of these poppies with the pollen so strewn about. I suppose when you’re dining al fresco, table manners can be relaxed a bit.

      Until I thought it through, and realized the metaphor didn’t really work, the title nearly was “Midas Redivivus.” But of course the beetle’s not turning anything to gold; it’s just enjoying the gold nature offers.

    1. I was curious about that myself, especially since there was a spider lurking around that looked like he could take care of business. On the other hand, I think he had a pretty good idea of what he was going to do next. That’s still to come.

  5. I do think pollen is magical. Navajo people here do not start any healing ceremonies without corn pollen. I remember Tony Duncan here telling how his father always blessed him with pollen on his forehead. The beetle looks delicious. :)

    1. Corn pollen wasn’t such a blessing for me when I was young. Because I was allergic to it, I couldn’t detassel corn with my friends. For an Iowa kid, that was worse than the allergies. Today, I’m well past that, and don’t suffer at all when I’m out and about. I like the thought of being blessed with pollen. That beetle clearly is blessed ten times over!

  6. Seeing the pollen up close bring memories of the powder that is used in making Kraft Dinner :) White prickly poppy – is it prickly?

    1. You’re right. I’d thought of Cheetos, but hadn’t made the connection with Kraft mac and cheese. The color is exactly the same. The poppy is prickly, like a thistle. This isn’t the best photo,, but it will give you an idea.

  7. Wow! Look at the pollen on that beetle. It is sure doing its job of pollinating. Maybe it heard that the bees could use some help. Great photo, Linda. –Curt

    1. There’s a week for everything these days, and national Pollinators Week is June 19-25. I don’t know if they had a poster contest, but this one surely could be the poster boy if they did. I’ve always thought of butterflies and bees and “the” pollinators, but clearly beetles are on that list (along with other “b” creature — the bats and birds).

      I’m pleased you like the photo. This fellow will be back, interacting with the poppies in a slightly different way.

    1. Isn’t he something? He reminds me of a baker covered with flour, or a kid covered with sand after a day at the beach. I can’t help thinking he’s very, very happy.

    1. I especially was taken with the shepherd’s crook-like stamens. Of course, that dusting of pollen over the beetle’s pretty cool, too. This is one of those images that comes from keeping my eyes open. I was trundling down Texas 35 at about sixty mph when I looked over and saw some white prickly poppies off the highway, on a gravel road leading back to an under-the-bridge boat ramp. A quick U-turn, and I got more than I bargained for. The poppies were lovely, but this fellow was lagniappe.

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