May Beetles, June Bugs, and the Hirschkäfer

I've hardly ever heard Sven with such a sense of urgency in his voice. "Ilana! Come here right now!" It was about this time last year on a balmy summer evening and I thought he had cut off a finger while preparing our dinner. I was on the phone in the next room and immediately ended my call. Sven's excitement came from spotting a male stag beetle attached to the wall outside of the kitchen window. Determined to document this unusual creature, he put it in a glass for a few moments so I could take pictures of it. After returning it outside to the flowers, we found that the next evening it had returned - and was crawling its way inside our living room through the open door. Once again, we returned it outside. Sven fed it some honey-water on lettuce, then took its measurements and emailed them to a website about Hirschkäfer sightings in Europe. 

Having lived in American suburbs and cities before moving to Germany, my eyes were not always trained for spotting wildlife. But last month in Berlin I found a May beetle crawling along the busy Kurfürstendamm sidewalk. It was nearly squished under my shoe. Sven picked it up and returned it to safety in the nearby bushes.

Then, a few weeks ago while riding our bikes along the Rhine, we saw a female stag beetle walking along the path and in danger of other bicyclists. Sven picked it up and placed it on a tree. On our ride home we saw many more flying around in the berry bushes. 

These are all creatures I've never seen in nature before, and it's really fun to find them and identify what they are. We've seen a few June bugs as well, which are much smaller and have a lighter brown color. It's amazing what you can see if you just keep yours eyes open for small movements all around you!