phymatodes testaceus??
we need your help! We live near Chattanooga, TN and found this bug flying in our back yard. It has amazing colors- metallic green and orange. When it flies it’s wings are a very bright green and when it turns to the side, you can see the flashes of orange. What is this beautiful bug? I’ve lived in this area all of my life and never seen anything like this. We visited another website(after looking through yours) to try to find a closer match and thought it was phymatodes testaceus- I don’t know what the common name is from the mumbo- jumbo, but some kind of borer??? Thanks,
The Ushers

Hi Ushers,
You are correct about this being a Borer Beetle, but you have the wrong species. The correct species is even more of a tongue twister: Plinthocoelium suaveolens. While we understand that the Linnean binomial system of naming living things is not conducive to speaking in normal conversational English, it can be impressive when these polysyllabic words are casually inserted in day to day conversations. It is unfortunate that this gorgeous insect does not seem to have a common name. BugGuide indicates that: “Larvae are trunk and root borers of Tupelo ( Nyssa ), Bumelia , and Mulberry ( Morus )” so either Tupelo Tree Borer or Mulberry Borer would seem appropriate. We will see if Eric Eaton can shed any light on the noticeable lack of a common name here. If Will Smith could get the word “jiggy” added to the vernacular and then getting it placed in Webster’s compendium of words, we see no reason that What’s That Bug can’t coin the common name Tupelo Tree Borer for this beauty. Just before posting, we did find that the much less smooth sounding common names of Texas Bumelia Borer and Eastern Bumelia Borer are used for two subspecies. Thanks for your beautiful photo and thought provoking letter that has allowed us to digress and wax poetic.

Update: (07/28/2008)
Hope your lecture at the Getty went well! I do like your suggestion for a common name for Plinthocoelium suaveolens. Such a beautiful insect really should have one….You might petition the Entomological Society of America committee on common names….I could be tempted to do so on your behalf, actually.

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