Friday, July 8, 2011

Longhorn Beetles

Longhorn Beetle- Marvin Smith
I have been seeing lots of these Longhorn Beetles on the Queen Anne's Lace lately.  The distinguishing feature is the antennae which are as long or longer than their body.   Once that connection was made, it wasn't hard to narrow it down to a Banded Longhorn Flower Beetle (Typocerus velutinus) in

The first hit when searching the scientific name brought up a very interesting blog, Nature in the Ozarks.  It is written in Arkansas by Marvin Smith.  He blogs about his nature findings and gardening when he isn't carving up trees to make wooden spoons.  I asked to use his picture as my specimen had passed on to the great weed patch in the sky.

Adult Longhorn Beetles (Family Cerambycidae) larvae bore into wood, some species actually killing live trees.  The adults emerge from these tunnels to mate and leave eggs on the next available trees.

Cottonwood Borer-
When I was a kid (don't ask when), Cottonwood Borers, Plectrodera scalator, were killing our row of Lombardy Poplars and my father paid me a penny for each beetle I killed.  My first proceeds were spent on a ten cent package of pins which I used to pin them onto the tree and watch them struggle.  This was less messy than cutting their heads off and just as satisfying.  I never progressed to torturing other insects (OK, maybe an occasional lady finger fire cracker in an ant hill) but have to admit I enjoyed this introduction to nature and hunting.

Typocerus velutinus is one of the Flower Longhorn Beetles, insects that feed on pollen and nectar without disturbing the flowers.  They seem especially fond of Queen Anne's Lace, a plant that was introduced to the US from Europe in what seemed like a good idea at the time.  This is probably the beetle's equivalent of pizza and pasta. 

Queen Anne's Lace- Wikimedia
Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus carota, is also called wild carrot.  Our common domestic carrot is actually a cultivar of this species.  The USDA has listed it as a noxious weed  and it can be a serious pest in pastures.  We notice that Soldier Beetles and Lightning Bugs are occasionally on it.

The good news about the Longhorn Beetles is that they are harmless pollinators and contribute in their own way to the variety of colors in your garden.


  1. Brilliant photos of fauna and flora! Very informative post! Thanks for sharing!

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