Jay Hosler is here today to talk a bit about one of the characters in his graphic novel Last of the Sandwalkers (out April 7).
Before we get to that, here’s a bit about the book:
Nestled in the grass under the big palm tree by the edge of the desert there is an entire civilization—a civilization of beetles. In this bug’s paradise, beetles write books, run restaurants, and even do scientific research. One such scientist is Lucy, who leads a team of researchers out into the desert. Their mission is to discover something about the greater world…but what lies in wait for them is going to change everything Lucy thought she knew.
Beetles are not the only living creatures in the world.
Here is Jay’s artwork and description of Eliza who sounds like one tough beetle:
- Character Name: Eliza
- Species: Dytiscus marginalis
- Length: 27-35 mm
- Color: Mostly dark brown or back with a hint of olive green, yellow around the borders of their thorax and elytra
- Habitat: freshwater, both still and flowing
- Superpower: breathing underwater
When I was a postdoctoral researcher, I would take a morning walk out to the lab’s honey bee hives and collect a handful of bees for testing. The lab was on a farm and it had its fair share of muddy ruts in the ground from car and tractor tires. One morning on my way to the hives I passed a rut filled with muddy water when something moved. Whatever it was, it was really big, so I leaned in for a closer look. (If this had been a monster movie, something horrible would have leaped out and eaten my face. Fortunately for me it was broad daylight and everyone knows monsters don’t attack when the sun is out). A little cautious dredging revealed a whopping big diving beetle.
How did it get there? Well, diving beetles are famous for their ability to spend loads of time underwater, but they are also proficient flyers and will migrate between bodies of water during the night. This one must have seen the moon or an overhead light reflected in the rut water and figured it had found a new place to hunt. I suppose if it could feel disappointment, it must have been sad that there was no food in its new-found “pond.”
Diving beetles prefer to be in large bodies of freshwater. They can be found in babbling brooks and taciturn ponds. These are large beetles with streamlined bodies perfect for zipping around underwater. They can stay submerged so long because they trap a bubble of air under their hard wing covers (called elytra). The beetles draw oxygen from this bubble and as they do, more oxygen flows from the surrounding water to the bubble. Because of this, they can stay underwater longer than one might predict based on the original oxygen content of their bubble.
While they are underwater, diving beetle adults and their larva spend their time gobbling up anything they can tackle. Their diet includes everything from other insects to fish and tadpoles. (It’s true. Check out these videos on the ARKive website).
In Last of the Sandwalkers, a considerably less aggressive diving beetle named Eliza comes to the aid of our heroes. When things look really bleak and the team feels swamped, Eliza helps the crew keep their heads above water.
Thanks to Jay for sharing this sneak peek at Eliza!
Be sure to visit the master post for the Last of the Sandwalkers blog tour to meet more of the beetles featured in this graphic novel.
Last of the Sandwalkers will be published on April 7, 2015.