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Metalic Wood-boring Beetle

Hippomelas sphenicus


Hippomelas sphenicus photo © by Mike Plagens

This beautiful beetle was found feeding on leaves of Salt Cedar and is about 23 mm long. At the end of September, fresh, succulent leaves of any kind are becoming increasingly scarce, which might explain why this exotic, invasive plant was chose. Cave Creek, Maricopa County, Arizona. Sept. 30, 2008.

Buprestidae -- Metalic Wood Boring Beetle Family

The immatures of these beetles live as white, wood-boring grubs. This species likely uses dead trunks and branches of mesquite (Prosopis). During this stage they are also known as round-headed wood-boring beetles because the galleries are circular in cross-section. Tunneling through the wood is a long, slow process. A year or more may be spent as a grub before it forms a pupa and later emerges as an adult beetle. The adults have acute vision and can fly - the wings are concealed beneath the hardened wing covers (elytra) when the beetle is walking.

There are many, many kinds of Metalic Wood Boring Beetles in the Sonoran Desert. Many are very colorful and are favorites with collectors. As adults they are often found on flowers or new leaves where they feed lightly. Otherwise most of these beetles' activities are related to mating and egg laying. The eggs are layed in dead or dying wood of trees and shrubs. Many species are specific about the species of trees used for the immature, grub stage.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008