Guilty as charged?

Another dead maybug. So far I haven't seen any live ones although they are hard to miss as they crash and clatter around a light source with their bulky bodies and stiff wingcases - like espionage drones gone wild. They used to be very common at this time of year  and attracted a glossary of regional names such as bummler, billy (or molly) witch,  michamador, snartlegog and doodlebug. The more common (and snigger-worthy)  name of cockchafer  simply means  big chewer. 
Apart from giving people a fright in the night the adult beetles are harmless, but their huge white grubs (see extra - don't look if you're squeamish!) were once the curse of farmers and gardeners as they ate their way through roots and tubers during their several years underground prior to emerging as adults.
These days pesticides have rendered them less common (in fact it's good to see them at all) but in the 14th century these insects  were such a menace to food production that they were arraigned in court in Avignon on account of their destructive behaviour. They were ordered to confine themselves  to a designated patch of ground; any that failed to do so would be collected up and killed. (We think this is ridiculous now but animal trials were not uncommon in history. If all life forms were considered to be God's creation  all were entitled to be judged by the due process of the law and, if not condemned to death,  they might be offered the chance to redeem themselves.)

Maybugs have short lives anyway but who knows if this one succeeded in reproducing and initiating another cycle of subterranean carnage. My father would curse roundly  when he found the plump wriggling larvae in his vegetable patch and he enjoyed feeding them to an attendant robin.
Incidentally, maybugs have also been used as human food but that's another story...

A good short piece about mediaeval animal trials here, and a longer, more erudite (but enthralling) article here.

An excellent YouTube video on the beetle here - recommended for anyone who has any anxieties about encountering this large but harmless bug.

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