“One of every four animal species known
to us is a specie of beetle.” — Douglass H. Chadwick

Introduction: Liverpool.
The speck borings of Ambrosia beetles.

1: The Cavern, at 9:10 (one after 9:09).
Some beetles produce rasps and squeaks
by rubbing their wings against their abdomen.

2: Hamburg, a naughty city.
200 million years ago,
beetles, the premier pollinators
on the planet, fueled the origin
and spread of flowering plants,
an explosion
of color on this rock, this dust speck.

3: London.
There are beetles so big early collectors
blasted them out of the air
by firing shotguns loaded with sand,
and some so small they hitchhike
on the mouths parts of bees.

4: America. 32 shows in 35 days.
Tiger beetles on the hunt can run two feet a second.
To cover relative ground,
a horse would have to run 250 MPH (155 km/h).

5: A hard day’s night.
There are beetles that resemble glazed porcelain.

6: The World.
Endless rain inside a paper cup.

7: Shea Stadium.
Some beetles can lift two hundred times
their own weight and move it several feet.

8: Dylan’s Mr. Jones.
As ladybird beetles mature,
their bodies become variegated
with areas of brilliant color.

9: Snubbing Marcos.
A bombadier beetle shoots boiling hot mixtures
from a gland near its anus to repel enemies.

10: Bigger than Jesus.
There are beetles that walk on the underside
of the surface of water,
propelling themselves by thrusts
of compounds spritzed from their abdomen.

11: Interview with a cigarette.
The boll weevil toppled
the cotton economy
of the American South.

12: Empty seats. The end of the mania?
Beetles have exoskeletons of chitin.

13: A mysterious tour.
There are beetles who wander in ice caves, alone and blind,
and those who scuttle, miles from water in the Namib Desert.

14: Pepper, Mr. Martin?
Some beetles live in green-glowing mushroom gills.

15: The Maharishi.
Dear Prudence: Ancient Egyptians held the dung
beetle to be a sacred symbol of rebirth.

16: Yoko.
Some beetles always work in monogamous pairs.

17: The White Album.
There are beetles who sift through leaf litter,
and those who shape manure
into balls and roll them along the ground
to store as food, as nourishment.

18: Twickenham.
The touch of a blister beetle
can cause human skin to peel.

19: Savill Row
Beetles are thrivers in rotting logs.

20: January 30th, 1969.
There are beetles who reside high in falcon’s nests.

21: Abbey Road.
Beetles have reinvented themselves
for three hundred million years,
yielding generation upon generation, each able
to tolerate and blossom amid new poisons.

“In terms of sheer variety, beetles may be
the greatest success story in the long history of life.” — Douglas H. Chadwick