Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ivory-marked Borer

Ivory-marked Borer- Eburia quadrigeminata
This beautiful beetle was easy to identify as a long-horn beetle.  The key characteristic of that family is antennae which are far longer that their body.  After searching through the long-horn beetles in all my insect guides I finally found this 1/2" long beetle in the Cerambycidae family of long-horn beetles.

In addition to its extremely long antennae, its beautiful ivory spots are raised like ivory inlays on an old fashioned piece of furniture.  This is appropriate as described in its story below.

The Ivory-marked Borer/Beetle Eburia quadrigeminata eats leaves and twigs.   Their eggs are laid in the cracks of dead trees.  Their larvae bore into the solid heartwood which isn't as nutritious as live trees.  They may stay when the wood after harvest, becoming a part of a wall or furniture.

This beetle is not just another pretty insect but has a great story to tell. It has one of the longest life cycles documented. It usually goes from egg to adult over 2 years, but has emerged from flooring, beams and furniture 10 to 15 years after the materials were manufactured. To quote the University of Florida Book of Insect Records:
"The wood boring beetle, Eburia quadrigeminata (Cerambycidae), when feeding in dry wood, may have its development so greatly retarded that adults emerge from furniture and flooring many years after manufacture or installation. Delayed emergence of E. quadrigeminata in 1915 was discovered from a birch bookcase 40 years old."
One woman called a pest control company after hearing a gnawing in her house. They found this borer in a five year old chair! In another case, E. Quadrigeminata crawled out into a Cairo Egypt home out of an imported French cabinet, the first known finding in Africa. Talk about an invasive species!

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