Just when we think we've seen it all here in My Florida Backyard, along comes something that makes us step back and say, "What the HECK is that???"
It's important to understand, mind you, that this beetle was nearly TWO INCHES long - almost the length of my pinky finger. At first sight from the other side of the screen, I wondered if it was an especially big specimen of what we Floridians delicately call a Palmetto bug (and the rest of the world knowingly calls a disgusting cockroach) - we've seen some pretty darn large ones, I'm sorry to say. But when I came around to the other side of the screen and saw the distinctive markings, I knew I was definitely looking at something else.
A quick search of BugGuide.net showed this to be an Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus), a pretty common beetle in the eastern US. It's known to eat some nectar, so perhaps it's not surprising we found it near the butterfly garden, which is full of nectar plants. It takes its name from the large eye spots on the pronotum, which are most likely used to fool predators much like the Buckeye butterfly does. You can learn more about this beetle and see some really incredible pictures by clicking here.
You never know what's going to cross your path in My Florida Backyard... and that's the way we like it.