Welcome to the captivating realm of wildlife photography! In this blog post, we’ll dive into the mesmerizing world of the Horned Passalus Beetle and its unique relationship with mites. Join me on an adventure near the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas, where I had the incredible opportunity to photograph this remarkable beetle with its tiny companions. Let’s unravel the mysteries behind this fascinating species and gain insight into the intriguing dynamics of their ecosystem.
Horned Passalus Beetle With Mites

Horned Passalus Beetle With Mites

The Horned Passalus Beetle: An Introduction
The Horned Passalus Beetle, also known as Bessbugs, is a large beetle found in North America. These beetles, belonging to the family Passalidae, are well-known for their striking appearance, characterized by their big size and distinct horns. Their strong bodies and sturdy legs help them move easily in their natural habitat.
Decomposers and Ecosystem Balance
Horned Passalus Beetles play a vital role in maintaining the balance of forest ecosystems as decomposers. They have a special liking for dead and decaying wood, which makes them nature’s recyclers. By breaking down organic matter, they help with the decomposition process and the recycling of nutrients within the forest ecosystem.
Mites: Tiny Hitchhikers of the Beetle World
Mites are small arthropods commonly found on insects or other organic matter. They are known for their resourceful nature, attaching themselves to a host in search of food and shelter. It’s quite common for insects like the Horned Passalus beetle to coexist with mites, as they provide a convenient environment for mite colonization.
The Feeding Habits of Mites
In the case of the Horned Passalus beetle, the mites that live on or around them most likely feed on fungi growing within the beetle’s nest or on organic matter present in the nest. The beetles unintentionally create a habitat rich in nutrients, providing an ideal environment for mites to thrive. This symbiotic relationship between the beetle and mites demonstrates the intricate connections within ecosystems.
Q: Why are Horned Passalus Beetles called Bessbugs?
A: The common name “Bessbug” for Horned Passalus Beetles might have come from a misinterpretation of the French word “baiser,” which means “to kiss.” This is because the beetles make a clicking sound when they rub their front legs together, which some people have interpreted as a kissing sound. The name “Bess” is a common female name in English, so the term “Bessbug” may have come about as a way of personifying the beetle.
Q: How do Horned Passalus Beetles contribute to the ecosystem?
A: Horned Passalus Beetles play a crucial role as decomposers, aiding in the decomposition process of dead and decaying wood. This helps recycle nutrients and maintain the balance of forest ecosystems.
Q: Are mites harmful to Horned Passalus Beetles?
A: Mites generally do not pose a significant threat to Horned Passalus Beetles. While they may appear as hitchhikers on the beetle’s body, they primarily feed on fungi or organic matter within the beetle’s nest. The relationship between mites and beetles is more commensalistic, where the mites benefit from the resources provided by the beetles without causing harm.
Q: Can Horned Passalus Beetles fly?
A: Yes, Horned Passalus Beetles can fly, but they do not do it often. They prefer to walk or run, and they will only fly if they are disturbed or if they are trying to reach a new location. Their flight is short-lived and they are not very good at it.
Q: How long do Horned Passalus Beetles live?
A: Horned Passalus Beetles have a relatively long lifespan compared to many other insects. On average, they can live for several years in their natural habitat, with some individuals reaching up to 3-5 years of age. Their longevity allows them to contribute to the decomposition process continuously.
The world of wildlife photography never ceases to amaze, and the Horned Passalus Beetle with its accompanying mites is a prime example of the intricate relationships found in nature. As we explored their symbiotic association, we gained insight into the vital role these beetles play in maintaining the balance of forest ecosystems. The captivating image captured serves as a testament to the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Stay tuned for more awe-inspiring adventures into the fascinating realm of wildlife photography!

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: RF100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM


  • Location: Near The Ouachita National Forest (Arkansas)
  • Date and Time Taken: July 3, 2022 (05:50 P. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f8
  • Shutter speed: 1/2500
  • ISO: 1250 (Auto)
  • Focal Length: 500 mm