With their shiny black paint job, raised rear suspension and nocturnal habits, these darkling beetles resemble something you’d see cruising the streets at night. But don’t be fooled – come too close for a better look and you’re likely to receive a nasty-smelling surprise. Because you’ve come across a STINKBUG!In the spring and summer, these beetles are what we call crepuscular, that is, active at twilight, night and dawn. When leading a night hike in the summer, I almost always spot them on the trail. But during the colder winter months, they are more active during the day, so day hikers are more likely to see them now and for the next few months.
A stinkbug’s wings are fused, so they can’t fly away from predators. But they have developed another potent form of protection, an oily secretion that they can spray multiple times at creatures that venture too close. When stinkbugs sense danger, they bend their front legs down, extend their rear legs up, and stick their “tushie” up in the general direction of the danger. If the offender comes too close, they let ‘her rip.
You can trust me on this one, their spray STINKS.
It’s strong enough to deter most predators, with a few exceptions. Skunks, for some curious reason, don’t seem to be bothered by the smell.
Our next Bird hike will be at Towsley Canyon on Saturday, December16 from 8-10 AM. Join us at the entrance to the park as we learn that "Not all creatures take a long winter’s nap". Bring a jacket, water and wear close-toed shoes. Towsley Canyon is on The Old Road, 1/2 mile south of the Calgrove exit off the 5. We hike when it’s drizzling but heavy rain cancels.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
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For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com .
To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to http://www.hometownstation.com/or  tune in to AM 1220