Western Sculptured PIne Borer

Subject: Black and gray beetle on Mount Graham
Location: Mount Graham, Pinaleño Mountains, Graham County, Arizona, USA
April 9, 2014 11:54 am
Hi there!
I took a picture of this handsome fellow in mid-October at the Lower Twilight Campgrounds on Mount Graham in the Pinaleño Mountains in southeastern Arizona. He was about an inch and a half long. We were about 7,400 feet up, the temperature was 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit and the vegetation was medium-thick ponderosa pine.
Thanks so much for your help!
Signature: Kristin

Metallic Borer Beetle
Metallic Borer Beetle

Hi Kristin,
Thank you for being intelligent enough to indicate that this sighting did not happen this week.  You would be surprised at the number of folks who neglect to tell us that information because many times the actual month of a sighting is quite significant.  This is one of the Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles from the family Buprestidae, and we believe it is the Western Sculptured Pine Borer,
Chalcophora angulicollis.  Though there are five member in the genus that look very similar, the only one that is reported from Arizona is the Western Sculptured Pine Borer.  According to BugGuide, it is found in “Coniferous forests” and its host trees include:  “hosts: various Pinaceae, incl. Abies concolor, A. grandis, Pinus ponderosa, Pseudotsuga menziesii(2); adults feed on leaves” which is very consistent with your sighting.  At least on BugGuide, sightings have been reported from May through July, so your October sighting is somewhat uncharacteristic, however BugGuide does offer the disclaimer that “Range and date information may be incomplete, overinclusive, or just plain wrong.” INaturalist also includes an August 26 sighting.  We suspect your altitude might have some bearing on the sighting occurring in October.

Awesome!!! Thanks so much for the quick reply and all of the excellent info.
My husband’s a Ph.D. student in evolutionary biology, and he’s done a little bit of collecting in Drosophila, Scaptomyza and Lycaenidae back before his current project. He’s given me a pretty good idea that more info is always better for an accurate ID.
Thanks again for your help!

What an interesting combination of insects to have been collected by your husband.  Is he aware of the book Nabokov’s Blues which covers the two authors’ expedition to South America to discover new species of Lycaenidae?  They then classified them based on some theoretical papers written by the novelist and amateur lepidopterist, Vladimir Nabokov, which had been lost for nearly fifty years.  As it turned out, Nabokov’s theories held true and many new species were named after characters from his books.

I’m sure he’s heard of “Nabokov’s Blues” at the very least — he worked with Naomi Pierce (http://harvardmagazine.com/2001/07/a-life-with-lycaenids-html) for a few years out of undergrad. But we don’t have a copy around the house! He’s got a birthday coming up … thanks so much for the idea! 🙂
Have a wonderful day.

Nabokov’s Blues is a highly entertaining read and we believe it will make an excellent birthday present.

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