Friend or foe?
In a monsoon garden it can sometimes be hard to judge if an organism benefits or threatens your plants. Generally speaking, in a garden without chemicals the biodiversity is so rich that the organisms control each other, and a pest rarely dominates for very long. However, at times a gardener is tempted to tilt the balance in favour of his beloved plants, and then it is good to know the role of the garden inhabitants. One commonly seen creepy crawler in Chiang Mai is a fairly large black beetle, ornated with brilliant yellow patches reminding one of Japanese pagodas. This is a yellow-spotted ground beetle or ‘pagoda beetle’ (Craspedophorus sp., Carabidae, Coleoptera). Do not step on it – it is a hunter and so it should be treated as a friend. I think it is very elegant too. We frequently see it inside the orchid nursery, often at night.
Text and Photo: Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden, Chiang Mai. (16 mm of rain last night).
Identification: Ryan Minard, South Carolina. He operates the Facebook page ‘Coleoptera’.