Flower Longhorn Beetle

2010 July 17

This is Rosie’s[1] debut contribution to this page. While we were at Otter Lake collecting the crayfish, she came toddling up to me, held up her clenched fist in front of my eyes, opened her hand, and proclaimed “See! Bug!” And this is what I saw:

This was a pretty substantial beetle, well over a centimeter long. It is evidently a Flower Longhorn, probably one of the ones in the tribe Lepturini. It has many of the features that Ted MacRae mentions here including a narrow-necked, broad-shouldered appearance, and strongly tapering elytra. And, of course, very long antennae (the “long horns”). I’m not quite ready to commit to narrowing it down to a genus or species, a number of the BugGuide entries in the Lepturini tribe are kind of close, but none look quite right.

Like other longhorn beetles, the larvae of these bore into dead or dying wood, and are actually able to produce enzymes to digest cellulose somewhat. The adults mainly eat pollen and nectar, and so they are commonly found on flowers.

One of the big features of feeding on pollen is that it is a messy business: once you land on the flower, the pollen gets all over. Good grooming is therefore very important if you want to eat well.

Even though they’ve got largeish mandibles, these beetles don’t bite much. They can nip if pressed, but that’s about it. Anyway, since they aren’t the kind of beetle that actually kills trees (they show up after something else has done in the tree), and they aren’t common enough to be really important pollinators, they mostly get studied due to being large, fairly good-looking beetles.

[1] Rosie just turned two. She’s picking up language pretty fast now, and understands a lot more than she says, but at the time “See! Bug!” was one of her more advanced statements.

[2] If you are a flower, you want to get pollen all over your visitors. That’s kind of the whole point of a flower: lure in insects with some nectar, plaster pollen all over them, and then when they land on another flower pick some of it off of them to fertilize its seeds. Way more targeted than, say, spraying your pollen on the wind, although it does rather put you at the mercy of the presence of pollinating insects.

8 Responses
  1. Anne Bingham permalink
    July 17, 2010

    Bug! Nice!

  2. Jenn Pedersen permalink
    July 19, 2010

    I found a beetle sort of bug in my driveway and I am trying to identify it. Wondering if you could help… please email me and I will send you a picture.


  3. July 20, 2010

    For anybody wondering what it was that Jenn had found, it appeared to be a nice, big Predaceous Diving Beetle.

  4. July 22, 2010

    It’s interesting that the antennae are forward of the eyes and must produce a blind spot for the beetle. Or are they all like this and it’s the first time I’ve noticed it?

  5. July 22, 2010

    I think that pretty much all beetles are like that, but this is the first picture I’ve put up where it was really obvious. I’m not sure how much of a blind spot it makes, though. Compound eyes are very different from our eyes. They can see with the edges of their eyes, not just through the pupils like we do.

  6. Oscar Furtado permalink
    May 21, 2013

    I found a longhorn beetle on my back yard, I do have a large lake and woods on my back yard.
    what should I do?

  7. Oscar Furtado permalink
    May 21, 2013

    The beetle came back to life after I hited whit bug spray.

  8. May 22, 2013

    Oscar: There probably isn’t anything that you need to do about it. If you are seeing one in your yard, I bet you’d find hundreds more if you look, and they’re just doing what they do – helping decompose logs.

    And if you decide you want to kill a single insect, I personally recommend just using a crude mechanical method, like swatting or stepping on it. Fooling around with bug spray to kill a single insect is like using a flamethrower to remove one weed from your garden. Bug sprays are for when you want to kill all the insects in a large area (or maybe to kill something like a wasp nest from a distance), not for picking them off one at a time.

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