Odontotaenius disjunctus

Bess Bug, or Patent Leather Beetle

Odontotaenius disjunctus photo, Bess BeetleFamily: Passalidae

Subfamily: Passalinae

Length: 32-38 mm


Horned Passalus is the common name sanctioned by the Entomological Society of America, but this is a rare case of a beetle with a number of common names. Patent Leather Beetle refers to the glossy black appearance. Bess Bug or Bess Beetle is imitative of the stridulations the beetles makehold one up to your ear and it sounds like it is saying "Bess, Bess, Bess." Peg Beetle refers to the unusual peg or horn on the head, which is bent and points forward.

The Horned Passalus lives in colonies where adults care for the young. Food consists of rotting wood containing microorganisms; one way that adults help the young is by pre-chewing this food.

Peg Beetle or Bess Bug, Odontotaenius disjunctusThe beetles themselves are large as beetles go, but the family is small: only three species in America north of Mexico, and the other two are found only in Texas (and southward as well).

Note: This page is both the Odontotaenius disjunctus page, and the family page for Passalidae.

Insects of West Virginia