Sunday, July 15, 2012

Grapevine Beetle

My guilty conscience gave me a good scare last week.  Coming in from the deck at night after spraying the remaining wasps that were nesting under our eaves, I felt something crawling up my bare leg.  I panicked, thinking that it was one of the Polistes paper wasps coming to avenge its dead relatives. Fortunately I looked before swatting and found this big beetle, probably trying to figure what this hairy surface was.

The Grapevine Beetle, Pelidnota punctata, is a common resident of Missouri although this was the first one I had found - or rather that had found me.  It is large, up to 1 1/4 inches long, and relatively heavy, especially when clinging on a bare leg in the dark. Slow moving and rather calm, it was in no hurry to walk away.  They are described as rapid fliers with a curving flight pattern but this one stayed for pictures.

Also known as the Spotted June Beetle, Wikipedia says they occur as far south as Northwest Missouri.  Apparently this one hadn't checked Wikipedia lately.  Adults eat the fruit and leaves of grapevine although not usually enough to become a pest.  They can vary in appearance enough that in 1915 there were 10 separate species and subspecies which eventually all were lumped into P. punctata.

Kudzu-like Winter Grape
Our woods are full of grapevine, predominately Winter Grape.  In places where there was timber downed by the derecho storm of 2009,  the vines have spread densely over the woods, resembling kudzu of the south.  As far as I am concerned they are free to eat all the grapevine they want.

More pictures at this site.

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