Phoracantha recurva (Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer)
January 5, 2010
Okay so I have already identified this beetle, however… I am wondering why it is that Hawaii seems to be left out of so many United States bug guides. I understand that we aren’t part of the 48 contiguous states, nor are we even attached to the continent; but it just seems rather unfair. We have a plethora of insects here, and I am sure that there are more people than just me who are interested in them. Sorry, I am just vaguely aggravated that whenever I want to find a “hawaiian bug” whether it is endemic to Hawaii or not, I have to search through a very long list of bugs. (This is my reference that I use for Hawaii http://www.hear.org/starr/hiinsects/images/ ) Sorry for the rant, just a little perturbed. And yeah the little guy/gal got smooshed, but onl y cause I was moving my fan and didn’t notice him. The ants didn’t waste any time in trying to devour him either, I actually had to fend them off in order to take this photo.
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
We totally sympathize with your discontent because as an international insect identification website that has posted many Hawaiian bugs, we here at What’s That Bug? often have a very difficult time identifying specimens from some parts of the world, including Hawaii. The Continental U.S. tends to have very good identification resources, as does Australia, but some locales have a noticeable dearth of information online. France, for instance, has very few sites for identification purposes, and we rarely get requests from France. Are we to believe that there are no insects in France, or that the French people don’t care about insects, or perhaps there is some other reason for the lack of resources available online. Hawaii is underrepresented as well. Perhaps you should contact your local universities to see why they don’t have websites devoted to insect identification. We do applaud your proper identification of a Eucalyptus Borer though we aren’t certain which species it is since both Phoracantha recurva and Phoracantha semipunctata look similar and BugGuide does not explain how to correctly distinguish them from one another. It is a species introduced from Australia, but luckily, its natural food, the eucalyptus trees, are also introduced. The ants in your photo appear to be Argentine Ants, Linepithema humile based on our own experience and images on BugGuide. Like the Eucalyptus Borer, the Argentine Ants are invasive exotic species that was introduced to Hawaii. According to the Ants in Hawaii website: “Hawaii is one of the few places on earth believed to harbor no native ant species. The extreme isolation of the island chain has meant that ants never managed to arrive on their own. Today, over 40 ant species have become established in Hawaii. This assemblage is unique in that nearly all the species qualify as “tramps” (species with habits and life histories that make them exceedlingly good at moving about in conjunction with human activity). Among them are a majority of the world’s most successful–and damaging–invasive species.“
Oops… Phoracantha semipunctata would actually seem to be more fitting… The only difference that I can actually visibly see is at the top of the wings on P. semipunctata the dark region is more pronounced than with P. recurva. Sorry about the ranting once again, I just get vaguely irritated that Hawaii is constantly not included in bug identification guides for the U.S. Hawaii does have a site that will assist with identification of local flora and fauna (http://ask.bishopmuseum.org/), but I actually prefer your site. I wasn’t upset with your site, so I really hope you didn’t take it as such. Your site was actually how I identified the beetle to begin with (should have just come here in the first place… lesson learned). Sorry if there are any grammatical errors, or typos, it is getting rather late here, but I just wanted to clear all that up. Oh and could those ants be pharaoh ants instead? I looked up the Argentine ant, and an eighth of an inch is a bit too big for those ants (the beetle was rather small, maybe half of an inch or so). I will try my best to get better macros of them, but they move rather quickly.
Hi again Tina,
According to the Featured Creatures website, the Pharaoh Ant is Monomorium pharaonis. We also found the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta, on BugGuide, which is a tiny species that stings. BugGuide indicates: “The Red Imported Fire Ant is the most aggressive and widespread of the fire ants found in North America. It was introduced from South America into the United States between 1933 and 1945. If their nest is stepped on, the workers rush out and sting the feet and legs of the intruder. Each sting results in a small, acutely painful wound that develops into a pustule in 24 to 48 hours. As the pustules heal they become itchy and can become infected.” The Red Imported Fire Ant is not reported from Hawaii, so you are probably correct with the Pharaoh Ant ID. The University of California Pest Management Program has a good page of the Pharaoh Ant.