Are Jewel Beetles Poisonous? Uncovering the Truth

Jewel beetles, known for their striking iridescent colors, belong to the family Buprestidae.

They live in various habitats and feed on plant materials. But are they poisonous? Let’s find out.

Jewel Beetle: Acmaeodera gibbula

Are They Poisonous?

There is no concrete evidence to suggest that jewel beetles are toxic to humans or animals.

However, as they can be pests, it’s vital to be cautious. When these beetles infest trees, they can cause damage and may require intervention with pesticides.

In such cases, potential dangers could arise from:

  • Pesticides used to control the beetles: Some chemicals can harm humans, animals, or other insects if ingested or contacted.
  • Tree health: Extensive damage from an infestation might weaken the tree, posing potential risks like fallen branches.

While the absence of toxicity in jewel beetles is a relief, keep in mind the possible dangers related to their control measures.

Always consult a professional or follow proper guidelines while dealing with pesticides.

Species and Classification of Jewel Beetle

Jewel beetles, belonging to the family Buprestidae, are a diverse group of insects in the order Coleoptera.

They are part of the larger class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda, and kingdom Animalia. Here’s a brief overview of their classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Coleoptera
  • Family: Buprestidae

This family includes several subfamilies, each with its own unique characteristics:

  • Agrilinae
  • Buprestinae
  • Chrysochroinae
  • Galbellinae
  • Julodinae
  • Polycestinae

These subfamilies contain a variety of species that differ in size, color, and habitat.

Comparison Table: Subfamilies

SubfamilyNotable Feature
AgrilinaeTypically small and elongated
BuprestinaeBright metallic colors
ChrysochroinaeDiverse body shapes and colors
GalbellinaeCompact and rounded
JulodinaeLarge with curved horns
PolycestinaeStrongly sculptured and spiny

Jewel beetles are known for their:

  • Iridescent and metallic colors
  • Bullet-shaped bodies
  • Hard exoskeletons

These features make them attractive to collectors and researchers alike.

Treasured for their beauty, these beetles aren’t considered poisonous to humans or pets, making them a fascinating subject in the world of entomology.

Appearance and Iridescence

Jewel beetles, known for their stunning appearance, exhibit a wide range of colors, including green, black, gold, yellow, blue, and orange.

Their iridescent wings create a glossy effect, enhancing their visual appeal.

These beetles owe their iridescence to their elytra, which are hardened forewings that protect their delicate hind wings.

The elytra’s microscopic structures reflect light in various ways, producing the vibrant colors.

Key Features:

  • Iridescent wings
  • Glossy appearance
  • Variety of colors

Jewel beetles have a head, thorax, and elytra that contribute to their unique patterns. The size of these beetles can vary; however, they’re typically small, measuring between 3-80 mm.

When talking about the appearance of jewel beetles, it’s necessary to consider the pros and cons of their iridescence:

Pros:

  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Camouflage in certain habitats

Cons:

  • Attracts predators in some environments


Therefore, jewel beetles are fascinating creatures, boasting a variety of vibrant colors and iridescent wings.

Their glossy appearance and distinct patterns make them an attractive subject of study for entomologists and nature enthusiasts alike.

Are Jewel Beetles Poisonous

Diet and Predators

Jewel beetles, belonging to the family Buprestidae, have a diverse diet primarily consisting of leaves, stems, and flowers. They are not considered poisonous for humans or animals.

Here is a brief overview of their diet and predators:

  • Diet: Jewel beetle larvae mostly feed on the wood of trees, whereas adults consume leaves, stems, and flowers of plants. They are also known to consume nectar from flowers, contributing to pollination.
  • Predators: Potential predators of jewel beetles include birds, spiders, and other insects such as mantises and ants. Humans, in some parts of the world, also consume jewel beetles as a food source.

Range and Environment

Jewel beetles are found in various environments, from forests to grasslands. They are distributed worldwide, except in Antarctica and some oceanic islands.

Their life cycle mainly revolves around trees, where they lay eggs and consume tree parts.

Jewel Beetles vs. Lady Beetles

FeatureJewel BeetlesLady Beetles (Ladybugs)
DietLarvae: wood, Adults: leaves, stems, flowers, nectarLarvae and adults: aphids, mites, and other small insects
ColorMetallic and bright colorsRed or orange with black spots
Size3-100 mm (varies by species)1-10 mm
PoisonousNoNo, but some species release a toxic substance

While jewel beetles are not poisonous, their bright and metallic colors might serve as a deterrent to potential predators in the animal kingdom.

This adaptation helps them survive in their environment and continue their role as important pollinators.

Habitat and Distribution

Jewel beetles are found in various habitats across the globe. Some common regions include Australia, North America, and New Guinea.

Here are some key features of their habitats:

  • Rainforests
  • Foliage
  • Woodlands

Jewel beetles can also be wood-boring, especially during their larval stage. This behavior affects the types of habitats they inhabit, often in regions with available wooden plants.

While jewel beetles constitute a diverse group, some infamous species make headlines for their destructive nature.

The emerald ash borer, for example, is well-known in North America for decimating ash tree populations.

Scientists have discovered a variety of jewel beetles in specific habitats such as Australia and New Guinea, where they thrive in rainforest environments.

These beetles can be found on the foliage of various plants, providing unique opportunities for observation and research.

Jewel beetle habitats

RegionHabitatExample Species
AustraliaRainforestStigmodera gratiosa
North AmericaForestsEmerald ash borer
New GuineaRainforestLamprima aurata

Camouflage and Defense Mechanisms

Jewel beetles are known for their iridescent, metallic colors, which serve as a form of camouflage.

These beetles are found in various environments, such as forests and gardens. They use their vibrant colors to blend in with their surroundings and avoid predators.

One example of camouflage in jewel beetles is their ability to resemble shiny, wet leaves in a forest.

Their shiny appearance mimics the sunlight reflecting off the leaves, making them less noticeable to potential predators.

Jewel beetles have other defense mechanisms, such as releasing noxious chemicals from their legs when threatened.

These chemicals deter predators and give the beetles an opportunity to escape.

Comparing jewel beetles to other insects like scarab beetles reveals some similarities and differences in their defense mechanisms:

InsectCamouflageDefense Mechanisms
Jewel BeetleShiny, iridescent colorNoxious chemicals
ScarabVaries by speciesHorns, tough exoskeleton

Key features of jewel beetles include:

Jewel beetles share some characteristics with other beetles like scarabs, such as being part of the Animalia kingdom, belonging to the class Insecta, and demonstrating conspicuous behaviors when threatened.

These behaviors include quick movements and loud buzzing sounds, alerting predators that they should keep a distance.

Jewel Beetle: Trachykele blondeli

Related Beetles and Species

Blister beetles

Blister beetles are known for their defensive secretion called cantharidin, a toxic substance that can cause blisters and irritation on the skin.

Some examples of blister beetles include the Spanish fly and the oil beetle.

Ground beetles

Ground beetles are a large group of carnivorous beetles that typically prey on small insects and other arthropods. They are not typically known to be poisonous.

Some examples include the bombardier beetle and the violet ground beetle.

Scarab beetles

Scarab beetles belong to the family Scarabaeidae and include well-known species like dung beetles and June beetles. These beetles are not considered poisonous to humans.

Weevils

Weevils are part of the superfamily Curculionoidea with over 60,000 species. They are plant-eating beetles and are not poisonous to humans. Some examples include the boll weevil and the rice weevil.

Polyphaga

Polyphaga is the largest suborder of beetles, including over 300,000 described species. It contains groups such as blister beetles, ground beetles, and scarab beetles.

Buprestoidea

Buprestoidea is a superfamily of beetles which includes the jewel beetles. These beetles are not known to be poisonous, but their bright and metallic appearance makes them popular among collectors.

Comparison table of beetle species

Beetle GroupPoisonousExample Species
Blister BeetlesYesSpanish Fly
Ground BeetlesNoBombardier Beetle
Scarab BeetlesNoDung Beetle
WeevilsNoBoll Weevil

Jewel Beetles in Research

Jewel beetles, known for their stunning appearance, are a subject of interest to researchers.

Adult jewel beetles have bright, metallic colors that make them stand out, while their larvae, on the other hand, are less conspicuous, often found inside wood.

In recent years, scientists at the University of Bristol, including Karin Kjernsmo, have studied the unique characteristics of peacock feathers and jewel beetles.

Their research uncovered inconsistencies in features, such as depth and iridescence, that help camouflage the beetles at night.

Key features of jewel beetles include:

  • Bright, metallic colors on adult beetles
  • Larvae found inside wood
  • Iridescence and depth inconsistencies

Visibility of jewel beetles in different settings

SettingBeetle’s Visibility
DaylightHighly visible
NighttimeCamouflaged

In the United States, some people experiment with feeding jewel beetle larvae, also known as mealworms, to birds and reptiles.

This practice, although uncommon, contributes to the growing trend of using insects as protein sources in animal feed.

Examples of insects used as animal feed:

  1. Mealworms (jewel beetle larvae)
  2. Crickets
  3. Black soldier fly larvae

Researchers are intrigued by the appearance and properties of jewel beetles, particularly their unique camouflage mechanisms at night.

These beetles, along with other insects, also serve as a potential and sustainable alternative protein source in animal feed.

Conclusion

Despite their visually striking attributes, jewel beetles are not poisonous to humans.

While their infestations can necessitate caution due to potential tree damage and pesticide usage, the absence of proven toxicity underscores the importance of ongoing research.

The enthralling appearance and distinct behaviors of these beetles continue to offer intriguing avenues for scientific exploration and understanding.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about Jewel Beetles. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Jewel Beetle from Australia

Cool Bug!
Location: Perth, Western Australia
January 16, 2011 11:20 pm
Hi!
I found this really cool bug on my driveway and would love to know what it is. He looked a bit sad, and in risk of being driven over, so I transported him to my garden so hopefully he’s doing OK.
I’ve uploaded his picture to my Flickr account:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessmanea/5353975946/
Good luck!
Signature: Jess Manea

Jewel Beetle

Hi Jess,
You rescued a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  Because of their often beautiful coloration and metallic markings they are called Jewel Beetles and they are highly prized by collectors. 

We believe your individual is in the genus Castiarina and of the numerous individuals pictured on the Coleoptera Buprestidae of Australia webpage, it most resembles Castiarina castelnaudi, though many other species are also quite similarWe verified that by comparing your image to a specimen of Castiarina castelnaudi on the Entomology section of the Agriculture of Western Australia website.

Thank you Daniel!
What a beautiful set of creatures these are, I’ve just wasted about two hours at work looking up jewel beetles now… haha.
I feel very lucky to have met him, and I do hope he’s doing OK 🙂
Thanks again,
Jess

Education is never a waste Jess.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks again for helping me identify the bug! The world is such a cool place now days where you don’t have wonder about things forever anymore.
I posted about it on my blog if you’re interested:
http://jessmanea.blogspot.com/2011/01/whats-that-bug.html
It was nice to meet you, good luck with your endeavors 🙂
Jess

Letter 2 – Jewel Beetle from Australia: Themognatha westwoodi we believe

what is it

Jewel Beetle

what is it
Location: Forbes NSW Australia
January 13, 2011 5:46 am
found this bug and every one i know even people who have lived in this area all there lives have never seen one before
help me bugman
Signature: Gavin Montgomery

Jewel Beetle

Dear Gavin,
This beautiful beetle is a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and its members, because of the gorgeous coloration many of them possess, are known as Jewel Beetles. 

We became obsessed with fining you a species identification, and we must have individually clicked through hundreds of images on the Insect Reference Collection Database (ICDB) of an Australian Government Agriculture website dedicated to beetles before we found an image of Themognatha westwoodi which appears to be an exact match for your beetle.  Alas, a great source for identifying Australian Beetles, Allen Sundholm’s Buprestidae Home Page, now comes up with the message:  “Forbidden You don’t have permission to access.”

  Allen Sundholm was quite liberal with his identification assistance in the past, but we no longer know how to contact him.  More information on Australian Jewel Beetle can still be found on the Brisbane Insect Website.

fantastic thank you very much for identifying this beautiful bug
can you tell me any thing about it?
is it common to my part of australia ect
thank you
Gavinb

Hi again Gavin,
We struggled to identify this beetle, and once we found a match, we were not able to find any additional information on the actual species online.  You may try searching some of the commercial companies that sell specimens. 

Rarer specimens would theoretically cost more to collectors. In  more general sense, the larvae of Jewel Beetles in the family Buprestidae are called Flathead Borers and some species remain in the larval stage for several years. 

Some species are limited to a single host plant species.  It is also not at all unusual that some species from remote locations are documented only from the adult stage known as the imago, and that there is no documentation of the life cycle.

Letter 3 – Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer from Panama

Colorfull Cockroach
Location:  Panama Central America – Summer
September 30, 2010 4:52 pm
Well, I was amazed about this type of cockroach so, I would like to know if it is a cockroach or what because I know you guys will be also interested about checking out this type of bug.
Thanks please answer fast 🙂
Maybe is a new kind of cockroach not discovered yet.
Patrick
Signature:  Colorfull Cockroach

Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer Beetle

Dear Patrick,
This is not a Cockroach.  It is a Jewel Beetle or Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We will try to research the species tomorrow morning.

October 1, 2010 at 5:30 AM
After a good night’s sleep, we quickly located a visual match to your Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer,
Euchroma gigantea, on the God of Insects website which has this wealth of information:  “Euchroma gigantea is the largest of the Jewel Beetles in the New World – and also one of the most attractive. In fact, its Latin namesake translates to ‘colorful giant.’

Newly emerged adults will have a coating of yellow wax dust, which obscures their metallic colors until worn off. This wax is only secreted once and often mistaken for pollen. The larvae are miners of fallen timber (Ceiba pentandra, Bombacopsis spp. and Pseudobombax spp.) and the adults may be found walking around on the logs. This large beetle is a strong flier and is often attracted to freshly cut trees.

It’s common name is the Ceiba Borer and in forests where species of trees in the family Bombacaceae (such as Kapok trees) can be found, it is fairly common. The adult beetles, when available, are roasted and eaten by the Tzeltal-Mayans of Chiapas, Mexico. The beautiful elytra are often used in jewelery and the adornment of textiles.

The Shaur [sic] (Jivaro) people of the Amazon Jungle use the beetle to make decorative ornaments symbolizing wealth, well being and personal power. They refer to the beetles’ elytra as ‘wauwau.’ Your specimen still has the yellow waxy coating, and images of mounted specimens which abound on the world wide web have that coating removed to better reveal the gorgeous metallic coloration of the Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer.

  We did locate a nice website, Beetles in the Bush, which profiles the Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer and has a photo of a newly emerged adult with the waxy coating.  According to Beetles in the Bush, the range of the Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer is “Mexico through Central America, the West Indies, and most of South America.

  At a maximum of 65mm in length, it is not only North America’s largest jewel beetle, but also the largest jewel beetle in the entire Western Hemisphere. That source also mentions the edibility thus:  “Indigenous peoples in Central and South America have long utilized the dazzlingly colored elytra of these beetles to create beautiful natural jewelry and adorn their clothes and textiles. 

The species is also eaten in both the larval and adult stages – Tzeltal-Mayans in southern Mexico (Chiapas) roast the adults when available, and the Tukanoans (northwestern Amazon) also eat the larvae (Dufour 1987). We will check with our friend Susan Lutz who spent time with the Shuar in Ecuador to see if she can provide any information on how the Ecuadorean head-shrinkers use the elytra of the Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer and also to see if they are on the menu for the Shuar version of Sunday Dinner.

Ed. Note: Read Susan Lutz’s response here.

Letter 4 – Japanese Burprestid

Bug from Japan
Dear bug guys,
I simply adore the site, nice work! I am an English teacher in Fukushima, Japan (a few hours north of Tokyo) and have been fond of insects since infancy. I have made quite a hobby of photographing them over the years.

Although colorful and interesting bugs are few and far between here on the island of Honshu, I was lucky enough to spot this little guy on the fringes of a fruit tree orchard on my walk to work last September. It took some detective work to find its official name on the Internet, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Chrysochroa fulgidissima.

The Japanese call it a “Tamamushi” and I’m told they are hard to find. My fellow teachers were impressed I got a photo of one. Since you’re having trouble with attachments, here are links to the two pictures I took, as well as a link to the Japanese article about the bug. Enjoy, and keep up the good work!
(the) Brian Adler

Hi Brian,
Thank you for thinking to send your gorgeous image of this Japanese Buprestid, one the the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles, as a link and not an attachment. Tamamushi is a beatiful specimen.

Letter 5 – Jewel Beetle

Jewel Beetle (metallic) in WA
We live on WA’s Olympic Peninsula (Sequim), but I’m not from these parts, so I can’t ident this little beetle, almost 2 cm long. We hope you can. We also included a ventral view, in case you need it. thanks…
jess mckenzie

Hi Jess,
Jewell Beetle is actually an accepted common name for the Golden Buprestid, Buprestis aurulenta.

Daniel,
I had it down to the Buprestids, but the species stumped me. The little devil didn’t look golden enough. If color is important, I’d better start shooting next to a color card. BTW, I’m certain this one came from some cherry logs sitting the the drive (next to the barbeque) for about one year.

I doubt that’s significant. In any case, thanks. It’s been a long time since that entolomogy course. Perhaps you can recommend a good key for use in thse parts.
jess In Sequim, WA

Letter 6 – Jewel Beetle from Australia: Temognatha goryi

Black and Yellow Beetle
Hi
Could you please identify the attached picture of a beetle for me? I photographed it in the Lamington National Park Qld. Regards
Fran Jenkin

Hi Fran,
This is a Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae. We believe it may be in the genus Themognatha as evidenced by this website. The Global Insects site has even more photos. Perhaps our faithful reader Grev can add to this.

Update: (03/30/2008) ID’s
Hi Daniel,
Corrected ID’s follow. Readers, and in particular the contributors of the pics below, are welcome and invited to contact me re ID’s for any Australian Buprestidae, which I have been studying and surveying their distributions etc since 1978. I am always interested in new distributional data especially from remote areas.
This beetle is Temognatha goryi:
Cheers
Allen

Letter 7 – Jewel Beetle

What’s that blue beetle?
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:48 PM
Saw this great beetle with bright blue legs on 10/5/08 on the Crawford Trail at Dripping Springs just east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Only saw the one specimen and have tried identification without success. Would love to know what this beautiful specimen is.
JC
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Drummond's Blue-Footed Bup
Drummond

Hi JC,
We quickly located your Metallic Wood Boring Beetle or Jewel Beetle on BugGuide. It is Drummond’s Blue-footed Bup, Lampetis drummondi. According to BugGuide: “Range
Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas” and
“Season May to November, but most specimens in the Texas A&M University Insect Collection (TAMUIC) from June through August.” The Texas Beetle Information page lists host plants as Mesquite, Guajillo, Pecan and Chinese elm.

Letter 8 – Jewel Beetle

Beetle, Fluoresent green head, orange/black body
August 11, 2009
Found this at Clearlake State Park on the road (alive) less than one inch long- see image for coloring. Ranger didn’t know what it was and couldn’t find it in the books at the information center. Thanks
Mary Alberts
Kelseyville, CA on Aug. 8th 2009

Jewel Beetle:  Buprestis viridisuturalis
Jewel Beetle: Buprestis viridisuturalis

Hi Mary,
This is one of the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles in the family Buprestidae, also known as the Jewel Beetles.  We believe we have identified your specimen as Buprestis viridisuturalis based on images posted to BugGuide.

We posted a photo of a dead specimen from Acton  back in 2006 and at that time we learned from Ken Weiner, a Natural Resource Specialist with Englebright & Martis Creek Lades that  “The buprestid from Acton, California is Buprestisviridisuturalis Nicolay & Weiss. It is found in dead Fremont Cottonwoods.”

Letter 9 – Jewel Beetle from Hawaii, but what species???

Is this a Jewel Beetle?
August 25, 2009
Hi there,
This little guy flew into my house. I took him back out after admiring him a bit but the very next day, there he was again, clinging to the post I hang my purse on. He’s beautiful but I don’t want him to die in here, I’ve put a variety of leaves out for him since he just plain refuses to leave. Is he a Jewel Beetle? Thanks for your help.
Amy
Kaneohe, Hawaii

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Hi Amy,
Yes, this is a Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae, but we are uncertain of the species. Since it is an island habitat, Hawaii is one of those places where invasive exotic species can displace endemic endangered species, and we are curious to find out what species you have submitted.  Sadly, since we must leave for work, we haven’t the time to research right now.
Judging by her ovipositor, your specimen is a female.

Update: February 16, 2011
Thanks to a comment from wildabug, our incorrectly sexed beetle has been identified as being in the genus
Strigoptera and we located a photo here.

Letter 10 – Jewel Beetle from Australia: Diadoxus erythrurus

Unknown Insects
February 15, 2010
Please can you help me identify these insects, found in the garden during the summer months.
Chris Moran
Perth, WA, Australia

Jewel Beetle: Diadoxus erythrurus

Hi Chris,
Submitting multiple images of unrelated insects negatively compromises our method for archiving letters, so we are not posting all of your images in the same response.  This is a Jewel Beetle or Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we believe it is in the genus Castiarina based on an image of Castiarina decemmaculata posted on the Brisbane Insect website

Your specimen looks very similar, but it doesn’t seem to be an exact match.  The Virtual Beetles website has numerous similar examples from the genus Castiarina, but we are not skilled enough to provide a definitive identification based on your photograph. 

The Buprestidae of Australia website contains a thumbnail image of Castiarina malleeana that also is a possibility, but an image posted on Outdoor Webshots shows the spots converging, which may be an individual variation.  The red coloration on the spots of your specimen seem to be a distinction that might help to properly identify this species.

Letter 11 – Jewel Beetle from Iraq

OIF mystery
April 21, 2010
I am currently stationed in Iraq, near the town of Sinjar, approximately 30 Km due east of the Syrian border in Northwest Iraq.

I was sweeping the patio area when I heard a loud buzzing and this critter made a crash landing into my head. We had just had a dust storm and I landed in a pile of dust I had just swept up after he hit me. He was approx 2 inches long, had a teal/green, iridescent shell with BRIGHT yellow wings under his shell.

When I tried to help him out of the dust pile he froze up and put his front two legs in the air at me sort of like a challenge. I “think” based on the pictures in your site that he is a kind of scarab beetle, but I couldn’t find a picture of one this vibrantly colored. Help bug man! Thank you!
SGT S
Northwest Iraq

Jewel Beetle

Dear SGT S,
Your beetle is one of the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles in the family Buprestidae, which are sometimes called Jewel Beetles.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply us with a species name, but if they do, chances are good there will be no common name, and the species name will be polysyllabic with letter combinations that are rarely found in words that are typically used during conversations.

Mole Crickets and Toe-Biters are the most common submissions we receive from the Middle East.

Update: February 16, 2011
Thanks to a comment from wildabug, we are able to link to a Royalty Free Stock Photo of
Judolis pubescens.

Update
How can I send identification?
Website: http://utenti.romascuola.net/bups
May 10, 2011 12:42 am
Hello. I tried to send the identification for the beetle from Iraq depicted at this URL: 2010/04/21/jewel-beetle-from-iraq/
but I was unable to do it. I tried to register, but without result.
However, that specimen belong to this species:
Julodis audouinii Laporte & Gory 1835 – Coleoptera Buprestidae, Julodinae.
It lives in Iraq, W. Iran and SE Turkey.

Larvae live in the soil eating roots, and adults go on any species of little tree, bush and also herbaceous plants, eating leaves and green bark of young twigs.
Signature: Maurizio Gigli

Thanks Maurizio,
We have posted your identification and linked to your website as well.

Letter 12 – Jewel Beetle

Unknown Beetle
Location: Big Bend National Park, Texas
October 8, 2011 12:22 pm
Hi!
Thanks for ID-ing those Bordered Plant Bug nymphs for me. Got another one for you…
I’m pretty sure this one is a beetle 🙂 He was feeding on this Aster, not sure what species.
Signature: JB

Jewel Beetle

Hi JB,
This is one of the Metallic Borer Beetles in the family Buprestidae, a group commonly called Jewel Beetles because of the bright colors of the elytra.  Jewel Beetles have been used in jewelry and in Victorian art.  We believe we have narrowed your individual down to a member of the genus Acmaeodera which is represented on BugGuide by about 80 different species, many of which look very much like one another and like your individual.  BugGuide also notes:  “144 spp. in our area (4), great many more in the Old World.” 

We believe we have narrowed the possibilities down to two likely species, but we cannot be certain as we do not have the area of specificity nor do we have any entomological credentials.  BugGuide has several photos of Acmaeodera amplicollis, including some with beetles feeding on very similar flowers, and they are reported from Arizona and New Mexico.

  Another possibility represented on BugGuide is Acmaeodera decipiens which is also reported from Arizona and New Mexico.  The similar looking Acmaeodera diffusa is reported on BugGuide from Colorado and Utah.

Letter 13 – Jewel Beetle from Jordan

Subject: Emerald beetle from Jordan
Location: Jordan
May 30, 2012 9:53 am
Hi again Bug fans!
I got friendly with this Steraspis squamosa on my hike to Jordan las weekend. It seems unsure of itself, doesn’t it?
Signature: Ben from Israel

Jewel Beetle

Hi again Ben,
Metallic Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae are commonly called Jewel Beetles, and when we tried to find a link for
Steraspis squamosa, we were amused to find our own identification on the Travelvice Travelogue website.

Letter 14 – Jewel Beetle from Tanzania

Subject: Unknown Beetle
Location: Tanzania
June 21, 2012 8:43 am
I found this beetle outside of Iringa, Tanzania, in July of 2007. It was dead when I found it, mostly hollow and crawling with ants (little ants, not the big, pinching/biting ants). I have never seen anything like it. Any idea what it is?
Signature: Jacquie

Jewel Beetle

Hi Jacquie,
This is a Jewel Beetle or Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae and we believe we have correctly identified it as
Sternocera pulchra Waterhouse, 1879 on M.E. Smirnov’s Photos of Exotic Jewel Beetles web page.  There is a photo of a living specimen on the Ecoport website.

  Because Jewel Beetles are valued by collectors for their spectacular, metallic colors, you can find Sternocera pulchra images on many websites that sell insects, including Entomoboutique.  We have to say we are obsessed with your pink knitted glove and can’t help but wonder why you need to keep your hands warm in Tanzania.

Letter 15 – Jewel Beetle from India may be Sternocera aequisignata

Subject: Whats this bug?
Location: Thane, Maharashtra, India.
August 11, 2012 3:26 am
We found this little guy in the middle of a busy area in the city. He was obviously not feeling so well.

We brought him back with us to a more wooded area where we stay. He’s unable to fly although he does walk around and flutter his wings from time to time. he’s been with us 3 days now and lives on a napkin inside a glass bottle. We tried to put him on to a tree but it looks like he does not want to leave. Can you please tell us What is he?
He is metallic green on the outside and has an orange stomach.
Johann Jacob. Age 11.
Signature: Johann

Jewel Beetle

Hi Johann,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  Metallic green is a relatively common color for this gorgeous family of beetles.  Alas, though we could not come up with a species match, we found several that are close.  We thought it might be
Chrysochroa rajah until we discovered this photo on Science Photo Library that shows the body beneath the wings and they are green, unlike the orange color of your specimen. 

We also found a close match with orange legs.  There are many beautiful examples of Jewel Beetles on the Buprestidae of Indo-Malaysia, Indochina and Philippines, however, no matches to your individual.  The closest match that we could find is Sternocera aequisignata pictured here on FlickR, though your individual does not have the pale orange shoulder patches where the elytra connect to the thorax as in this God of Insects image and virtually all other images of that species found online. 

For now, the best we can do is a family identification.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist with this gorgeous beetle that was documented with your excellent photographs.

Jewel Beetle from India

Letter 16 – Jewel Beetle from Spain: Buprestis octoguttata

Subject: vivid blue body with yellow spots
Location: Catalonia, Spain
August 21, 2013 4:53 am
Hi there, I found this beautiful bug in our garden when visiting Catalonia Spain. It was about 2cm long, straight bodied, approx 5mm wide. The legs were very small and the nose was square. Not shaped like a wasp at all.
Signature: Calbea

Jewel Beetle:  Buprestis octoguttata
Jewel Beetle: Buprestis octoguttata

Dear Calbea,
We knew your beetle was a Jewel Beetle or Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we quickly identified it as Buprestis octoguttata thanks to Flicker.  We verified the identification on NaturePhoto.  Many Jewel Beetles have brilliant, metallic coloration and indigenous people in Central and South America used them for jewelry and other ornamentation.  Larvae of Jewel Beetles are wood boring grubs.

Letter 17 – Jewel Beetle from Arizona: Lampetis webbii

Subject: What’s this beetle?
Location: Bisbee (S.E. Arizona)
October 1, 2013 4:45 pm
I saw this trippy-looking beetle sunning itself on my porch this afternoon. I’ve never seen one like it before. It’s about 1 1/2” long with blue feet and iridescent blue on its back. Very beautiful.
Signature: Tamara

Jewel Beetle:  Lampetis webbii
Jewel Beetle: Lampetis webbii

Hi Tamara,
We were going to post your photo with a family identification only, but as luck would have it, we quickly identified the species as well.  This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and when we did a web search of the family name and Arizona, we found Rollin Coville’s Buprestidae Gallery which had some examples of the blue legged
Lampetis webbiiBugGuide has some additional photos and the information that the larvae feed on Palo Verde.

Update
After posting, we realized we had several similar looking beetles from the same genus in our archives, so we would not discount that this might be Drummond’s Blue Footed Bup,
Lampetis drummondi.

Letter 18 – Jewel Beetle

Subject: beetle
Location: san diego CA
April 1, 2014 8:34 pm
can you identify this guy? very pretty beetle, about 1 in long. iridescent and had a green back under the wings when it flew off. found mar 31 in san diego, ca. curious as i am always looking at bugs in my neighborhood and have never seen this one before. any help much appreciated
Signature: d

Jewel Beetle:  possibly Dicerca hornii
Jewel Beetle: possibly Dicerca hornii

Dear d,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we believe it may be
Dicerca hornii based on the photos and range listed on BugGuide.

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Letter 19 – Jewel Beetle from El Paso: Lampetis drummondi

Subject: Metallic Wood-boring Beetle?
Location: El Paso, TX
August 24, 2014 2:43 am
I found this beetle dead on a small puddle in my backyard, luckily it was in good condition.
I suspect it is a metallic wood boring beetle, but don’t know what type.
The closest tree to the place where I found it is an old pecan tree, is this a possible host for wood-boring beetle larva?
Signature: RAvila

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Dear RAvila,
You are correct that this is a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We believe we have identified your Jewel Beetle as
 Lampetis drummondi thanks to the BugGuide archive where it states:  “Adults on Acacia, Carya, Chilopsis, Condalia, Dalea, Diospyros, Euphorbia, Gossypium, Karwinskia, Nolina, Prosopis, Rhus, Quercus, Salix, Tamarix.”

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Letter 20 – Jewel Beetle and female Stag Beetle found in gutter in Western Australia

Subject: Some type of Red Jewel Beetle?
Location: Chidlow, Western Australia
December 4, 2015 8:41 pm
Hi,
We were cleaning out our gutters and found this chap dead amongst the accumulated leaves. Looks a lot like one of the pictures on the WA Museum’s composite photos of red jewel beetles, but ours seems to have a lot more yellow on it, or perhaps it has just faded a bit in the sun? Any thoughts please? As you can see we also found a Western Glossy Stag Beetle!
We are located near the village of Chidlow, on 5 acres amongst partially cleared farming land and bush, in the hills east of Perth, Western Australia.
Thanks,
Signature: Tom and Sue McNaughtan

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Dear Tom and Sue,
There is much diversity within the family of Jewel Beetles (Buprestidae) from Australia and there is also variability within the species.  We believe your individual may be in the genus
Castiarina, which is well represented on the Buprestidae of Australia site.

  We found a matching image of a Western Glossy Stag Beetle on Red Bubble, but there is no scientific name provided.  We believe that based on the Beetle Space site, that this is a female Lamprima micardi.  There are Asian instructions provided on breeding the species as well as many images taken in captivity on Insect Forum.  There are probably quite a few collectors salivating over your lucky discovery.

Stag Beetle and Jewel Beetle
Western Glossy Stag Beetle and Jewel Beetle

Letter 21 – Jewel Beetle

Subject: Strange beach beetle
Location: Mccarthy Beach Northern Minnesota
June 21, 2017 1:05 pm
Hi! I was on the beach and looked down and this insect was struggling to get out of a hole. His underside was a metallic orange and I was wondering what it was. Thanks!
Signature: Hailee

Jewel Beetle

Dear Hailee,
We thought your Jewel Beetle was a Golden Buprestid, but that species if found west of the Rocky Mountains.  We found a relative on BugGuide,
Buprestis striata, that looks like a convincing match to your beetle.

Letter 22 – Jewel Beetle from Greece:

Subject: large beetle!
Location: Nafplio, Greece
August 12, 2017 8:26 am
Hi, We saw this rather large and majestic looking creature at a monastery in Nafplio Greece in mid August. I’d be really interested to find out what it is!
thank you so much, Owen Wright and Dora Gardouni
Signature: Owen and Dora

Jewel Beetle: Chalcophora detrita

Dear Owen and Dora,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we initially identified it as 
Chalcophora detrita on Living Jewels European Buprestidae where it is referred to as “One of the biggest Jewel Beetle in Europe.”  It is also pictured on Dreamstime and BioLib.  According to Nature Wonders:  “Host plants are Pinus spp.

Jewel Beetle: Chalcophora detrita

Hi Daniel,
Thankyou so much for identifying the beetle! We’ve now done some additional research and it’s been really interesting to find out more. the one we saw was very large, we estimate about 5 cm long or maybe a little bit more.
thanks so much!
Owen and Dora

Letter 23 – Jewel Beetle

Subject:  metalic copper green beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Southeast Washington Kennewick
Date: 09/05/2017
Time: 12:11 AM EDT
Found this beetle on my driveway end of August and looked at many photos online and can’t seem to find anything quite like it and only found one. Can you identify?
How you want your letter signed:  Gerry Presby

Jewel Beetle: Buprestis viridisuturalis

Dear Gerry,
The beautiful metallic coloration of your beetle, a trait that is shared with many members of its family, has resulted in a familial name of Jewel Beetle, but alas, your individual, 
Buprestis viridisuturalis, which we identified on BugGuide, does not have a common name other than that shared with others in the family.

Letter 24 – Jewel Beetle

Subject:  Golden Buprestid – Dicerca lurida
Geographic location of the bug:  Sudbury, Ontario.  Canada
Date: 06/07/2018
Time: 05:24 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This bug looks like a typical Golden Buprestid – Dicerca lurida, but at the back end of the bug, it’s red and narrow, unlike any pictures i have found.  I can tell it’s related, but is it the same? or what would it be called?
How you want your letter signed:  Shawna

Jewel Beetle: Dicerca caudata

Dear Shawna,
You are correct that this is a relative of the Golden Buprestid, and members of the Metallic Leaf Borer Beetle family Buprestidae are frequently called Jewel Beetles.  Your individual is a member of the genus
Dicerca, and we feel relatively confident that your individual is Dicerca caudata, a species pictured on BugGuide with no common name.

Jewel Beetle: Dicerca caudata

Thank you for identifying this insect for me. 🙂

Jewel Beetle: Dicerca caudata

Letter 25 – Jewel Beetle from India

Subject:  Large Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Chennai India
Date: 09/25/2018
Time: 04:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Burpidae???  Friend sighted on a tree in Marina Beach area of Tamil Nadu India on Sept 1, 2018
How you want your letter signed:  Ranger Bert

Jewel Beetle

Dear Ranger Bert,
We believe you have misspelled the family in question.  This is a Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we wish there was a dorsal view that clearly shows the elytra.  The first matching image we located was on Shutterstock where it is identified as “possibly
Sternocera nitens or S. Brahmina [sic].”  We found a different image on Alamy with an identical identification, but alas, no other verifiable images in our quick search.  Mounted specimens are pictured on Coleopsoc.

Jewel Beetle

Letter 26 – Jewel Beetle

Subject:  probably cicadomorpha
Geographic location of the bug:  Phoenix, Arizona.
Date: 08/13/2019
Time: 07:34 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this bug in the evening on a dead tree while grilling, it was origanoly above the stick but when I moved my camera closer to it it moved below. The next day I looked on the tree and I did not find it on the branch that it was sitting on before or any of those around it. I searched for it on google for at least an hour but found nothing quite like it.
How you want your letter signed:  christopher walker

Jewel Beetle: Acmaeodera gibbula

Dear Christopher,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and upon researching its identity, we found this similar looking individual identified as 
Acmaeodera rubronotata on Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, but the red markings are different as are the white spotting pattern.  We suspected the genus was correct, but not the species. 

We browsed BugGuide, but we still could not identify the species and we were daunted by the information “144 spp. in 2 subgenera in our area.”  We believe we correctly identified your beetle as Acmaeodera gibbula thanks to Arizona Naturalists.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae mostly host on various legumes.”

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

29 thoughts on “Are Jewel Beetles Poisonous? Uncovering the Truth”

  1. This is a nice shot of Diadoxus regia (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), previously known as Diadoxus scalaris. There is much published information on this and its related species, Diadoxus erythrurus. Please search under Diadoxus at my website http://www.calodema.com for relevant research papers and illustrations.

    Best regards, Trevor

    Reply
  2. Hi all,

    Sorry about my web pages no longer being available. I took them down was some of the info was no longer applicable and I meant to replace them, but never got around to it. However, I still hope to replace them some day, but not likely until after I retire in a few years time (it is June 2011 as I write this). Too much else on my plate in the meantime! Also, I have only just come across this site again after some time since I last visited it, and I was humbled by the kind words said about my old site. I still have copies of all my web pages saved on my hard drives.

    Anyway, the pictured beetle is Temognatha vitticollis and the Forbes locality for the specimen, I asume, is an excellent locality record. The species is knwon to occur in surviving bushland areas in inland NSW and inland southern QLD. It is a species I would like to get ahold a few more specimens of if anyone has any to spare, dead or alive. Live specimens are more useful for DNA studies, but dead specimens, if properly dried, are also very useful. Specimens of any other Buprestidae specimens that anyone may come across would also be useful. The more localities, the better. I also have interests in other beetle families, such as Cerambycidae, Cetonidae and Carabidae, and may be able to help with ID’s.

    Though similar in appearance (as is also Temognatha fallasciosa, for example), Temognatha westwoodi is narrower in width, has different aedegaus (genitalia), is a deeper reddish colour in life, and only occurs in southern Western Australia.

    My research on the spatial and temporal distributions, regional diversity, adult host plants, adult emergence triggers, etc, mainly of Australian Buprestidae, has been ongoing since circa 1980 and is an ongoing lifelong project. I hope to begin publishing papers after I retire.

    Incidentally I took my wife and my sister-in-law to Forbes a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised at how nice a town it is. We stayed in a cabin at a caravan park near the river, the one with all the trees.

    Cheers to all,

    Allen Sundholm

    Reply
    • Dear Allen,
      Thanks for providing a correct species identification. It is sad when dependable internet resources vanish from the public airways.

      Reply
  3. Hi Jess & Bugman!

    The species in this pic is a female of Temognatha conspicillata, which is one of the larger species of Buprestidae endemic to the south-west of Western Australia.

    The Perth record is of interest as there are relatively few records of this species from around Perth compared to records of this species from further inland in WA.

    Cheers!

    Allen Sundholm

    Reply
    • Hi again Allen,
      We are thrilled that you have some time to devote to identifications of some of our Australian Buprestids.

      Reply
  4. Hi Tom and Sue,

    The ‘Western Glossy Stag Beetle’ (which is just someone’s ‘common name’ and is thus not a scientific name) is a female of Lamprima micardi Reiche, 1841, endemic to the SW of WA,. The males are a tad larger and possess larger mandibles.

    The other specimen is the jewel beetle (i.e. in the Coleoptera family Buprestidae) Castiarina amabilis (Gory & Laporte, 1838), also endemic to the SW of WA.

    As with many Australian species of Buprestidae, Castiarina amabilis appears to be highly seasonal. i.e. emerges as adults, commonly so, only in certain seasons (i.e. in certain years). Though I have spent many years travelling parts of Australia in the search for Buprestidae as part of my lifelong survey effort (conducted under appropriate scientific licences where required), I have yet to personally find this species, and so that I can photograph this species alive. Well, maybe one day someone will find live specimens of it and send it to me!

    Neither species is rare in what’s left of the fast-disappearing habitats of the SW of WA largely thanks to housing developments especially in what little is left of the once-extensive and incredibly ecologically diverse and unique Swan Coastal Plains habitats (same goes for most of the habitats in the SW of WA, actually!), and ongoing broadacre clearing.

    Cheers,
    Allen Sundholm

    Reply
  5. Hi Tom and Sue,

    The ‘Western Glossy Stag Beetle’ (which is just someone’s ‘common name’ and is thus not a scientific name) is a female of Lamprima micardi Reiche, 1841, endemic to the SW of WA,. The males are a tad larger and possess larger mandibles.

    The other specimen is the jewel beetle (i.e. in the Coleoptera family Buprestidae) Castiarina amabilis (Gory & Laporte, 1838), also endemic to the SW of WA.

    As with many Australian species of Buprestidae, Castiarina amabilis appears to be highly seasonal. i.e. emerges as adults, commonly so, only in certain seasons (i.e. in certain years). Though I have spent many years travelling parts of Australia in the search for Buprestidae as part of my lifelong survey effort (conducted under appropriate scientific licences where required), I have yet to personally find this species, and so that I can photograph this species alive. Well, maybe one day someone will find live specimens of it and send it to me!

    Neither species is rare in what’s left of the fast-disappearing habitats of the SW of WA largely thanks to housing developments especially in what little is left of the once-extensive and incredibly ecologically diverse and unique Swan Coastal Plains habitats (same goes for most of the habitats in the SW of WA, actually!), and ongoing broadacre clearing.

    Cheers,
    Allen Sundholm

    Reply
  6. I found on today in the Area of Banjup In perths metro south =) was sooooo pretty. I took photos too! I feel so proud to of seen it x

    Reply
  7. Hi there, thanks for having this wonderful site with great insect photos. I’ve found my jewel beetle here, the same as in the photo. From reading comment by Allen Sundholm I believe it is Temognatha vitticolis. I found it in my local parkland in Corryswood, Thurgoona (near Albury, NSW), in white box woodland.
    I have a fresh specimen if it is wanted for a collection, but would need advice on how to preserve the specimen.

    Kind regards
    Gill

    Reply
    • Hi Gill, very sorry for the delay in replying! I did not receive anything from this site to tell me you had replied, I probably forgot to check the ‘notify me’ box. I am now retired, but everything else I mentioned above pretty much still applies, except that there has been an easterly range extension of Temognatha westwoodi into the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Please drop me line to my email address entom2@optusnet.com.au if you are still interested in supporting my research. All the best, Allen Michael Sundholm OAM

      Reply
    • They do not bite for food. Eric Eaton once informed us “if it has a mouth, it can bite” but Jewel Beetles don’t pose a threat to humans.

      Reply
  8. Soy de Parral, Chihuahua México y encontré uno de esos escarabajos; con la luz artificial brilla, pareciera que tuviera polvo de oro. Como podría enviarles una foto?

    Reply
  9. Perhaps another Buprestid for your archives: Lampetis webbii. Photographed on Mount Ord,a couple of miles east of SR87

    Don’t see a place to submit an image

    Reply
  10. Hi Gill, very sorry for the delay in replying! I did not receive anything from this site to tell me you had replied, I probably forgot to check the ‘notify me’ box. I am now retired, but everything else I mentioned above pretty much still applies, except that there has been an easterly range extension of Temognatha westwoodi into the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Please drop me line to my email address entom2@optusnet.com.au if you are still interested in supporting my research. All the best, Allen Michael Sundholm OAM

    Reply
  11. Hi, I can now also be contacted via Facebook Messenger. I also am on Facebook, and created several Facebook groups to do with aussie beetles, butterflies and moths. All the best, Allen

    Reply

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