Banded Longhorn Beetle Good Or Bad?

All longhorn beetles are not bad, despite the infamy they have gained due to their Asian cousin. In this article, we look at the gentle banded longhorn beetle, which is a beneficial insect.

The longhorn (Cerambycidae) family of beetles, which comprises more than 35,000 different beetle species, is infamous for the damage they can cause to trees. 

It can indeed be quite concerning if a bunch of banded longhorn beetles shows up on your property. But not all species of these beetles are bad.

So, if you are wondering whether these beetles are good or bad, you have ended up on the right page.

Banded Longhorn Beetle Good Or Bad
Six Banded Longhorn

What Are They?

Banded Longhorn Beetles belong to the longhorn family of beetles. Based on the number of bands, they are divided into three types:

  • Two-banded longhorn beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum)
  • Four-banded longhorn beetle (Strangalia quadrifasciata)
  • Six-banded longhorn beetle (Dryobius sexnotatus)

You might also want to note that these beetles belong to a subfamily of longhorns known as flower longhorns. 

This is because adult banded longhorned beetles usually visit flowers for nectar. 

Among the various species of banded longhorns, the wasp beetle deserves special mention due to its ability to mimic wasps using its jerky flight pattern.

What Do They Look Like?

The banded long-horned beetle is easy to identify due to its unique appearance.

While the head and the pronotum are black, the rest of the body is covered in stripes of yellow and reddish brown or rusty red. 

Its wings are also banded and carry a fuzzy or velvet-like appearance.  The beetle has a pair of long and segmented black antennae and six yellow legs with black feet. 

Banded long-horned beetles grow up to 0.3 inches to 0.6 inches long. Around the shoulders, they are wider, while the tip of their abdomen looks tapered.

What Do They Eat?

You might come across adult banded longhorns in your garden, as they mostly feed on pollens and nectar. 

A wide variety of flowers attract these beetles, but the flowers of parsley, celery, and carrot plants are their favorites.

In the larval stage, these beetles feed on plant tissue by boring tunnels into the wood. 

Adult females tend to lay their eggs in dead or decaying wood that the larvae can easily bore through. Banded Longhorn larvae prefer goldenrod, sumac, birch, and poplar trees.

Are They Dangerous?

Banded longhorn beetles are not dangerous to humans, as they cannot bite or sting. They are capable of nipping, but the nips aren’t strong enough to draw blood or penetrate the skin. 

Their larvae do cause damage to trees by boring tunnels into the wood. However, it’s all a part of the ecological balance. 

The larvae help in the elimination of deadwood and improve the fertility of the soil. You can identify infested trees by looking for larval frass around the trees. 

Larval frass is a mix of sawdust and fecal matter that the larvae expel from the tunnels.

What Are They Attracted To?

Regardless of whether you primarily grow flowers, herbs, or vegetables in your garden, there’s a chance it might attract banded longhorns. 

Besides gardens, these beetles are also attracted to flowers growing in fields or other open places. 

Like most insects, they’re attracted to light sources, and you may find them around lights at night. As for the larvae, you’ll mostly find them in decaying wood.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are longhorn beetles beneficial?

Despite their infamy due to the Asian longhorn beetle, a pest that can cause severe damage to forests and gardens, other longhorn beetles are beneficial in a couple of ways. 
For instance, flower longhorns can act as pollinators while hunting for nectar and pollen. As mentioned earlier, longhorns also help remove deadwood and improve soil fertility.

Are longhorn beetles destructive?

Asian Longhorn beetles are destructive against a variety of tree species. 
The longhorn larva causes damage by boring deep tunnels and galleries in the wood, disrupting the flow of nutrients and turning the tree weak. 
The adults of certain species can damage trees, too, by chewing and leaving behind wounds and pits. These wounds get infected, and the trees begin to blacken from the sap.

Are longhorn beetles invasive?

Yes, the longhorn beetles are an invasive species of pests in North America, but they have grown quite abundant in the continent now. 
The Asian longhorned beetle, one of the most common species of longhorns, is native only to Korea and China, but you can now find them in the US too.

Can longhorn beetles destroy trees?

The damage caused by longhorn beetles and their larvae is bad enough to kill trees. 
This is why, although these pests aren’t dangerous to humans, they can have a severe impact on our economy. A healthy tree attacked by longhorn larvae dies within 10 to 15 years.

Wrap Up

If you have a tree stump lying around in your garden, it may potentially attract a longhorn beetle infestation. 

Although they won’t usually damage any furniture or a piece of wood in your home, they can easily destroy your beloved maple tree. 

Thank you for reading, and I hope you found this helpful. 

Keep an eye out for these pests and remove trees infested by longhorn larvae to protect your garden.

Reader Emails

Banded longhorn beetles are rather innocuous, but their unique appearance often makes them a subject of curiosity among bug lovers.

Read below letters and photographs sent in by many of our readers, requesting us to identify these beautiful beetles.

Letter 1 – Six Banded Longhorn

 

WTB??
I live in northern KY. This bug was found on Northern KY University’s campus in May or June. He is probably about an inch long, flies and his antennae are long and hairy. What is he???
Shannon

Hi Shannon,
But for the extreme hairiness of the antennae, your beetle is a near perfect match to the Six Banded Longhorn, Dryobius sexnotatus, pictured on BugGuide. BugGuide also indicates it is “Uncommon (2)and listed as rare and endangered on several websites.”

Update: (08/28/2008)
Daniel:
The longhorned beetle is identified correctly. Some images show how hairy the antennae are, and some images don’t. It is all in the lighting and resolution. I lived in Cincinnati (across the Ohio River from No. Kentucky U.) for eleven years, and never saw a Dryobius in all the time I spent in forested areas there.
Eric

Letter 2 – Six Banded Longhorn Beetle

 

what is this bug?
I found this bug this morning right next to my front steps. Can you tell me what it is. We are located in Middle Tennessee.It is appro. 1 inch long body with the antennas being appro. 2 inches long. picture attached …THanks and awaiting your answer.
Rodney

Hi Rodney,
How exciting for us. This is a new species for our site: A Six Banded Longhorn Beetle, Dryobius sexnotatus. According to Eric Eaton on BugGuide, it is considered rare throughout its range.

Letter 3 – Mating Banded Longhorns

 

Mating Beetles / Northern Michigan
Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 9:15 AM
These beetles were all over a small meadow next to our cottage in Maple City Michigan during the first week of August, 2008. Caught these two mating. Ooh la la… I have no idea what kind they are and haven’t been able to ID them on my own.
Your site is wonderful! Thanks!
Jeff
Maple City Michigan, USA

Mating Banded Longhorns
Mating Banded Longhorns

Hi Jeff,
Your mating beetles are Banded Longhorns, Typocerus velutinus, in the group known as Flower Longhorns.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on decaying hardwoods such as oak, hickory. Adults usually found in daytime, but do come to lights, so probably somewhat nocturnal. “

Letter 4 – Mating Banded Longhorns, or closely related species

 

fiber optic penis?
July 26, 2009
I knew that subject line would get your attention. I recently took some pics worthy of your BUG LOVE page, but I didn’t know what kind of beetles they were. Then today I checked your site and there it is- a banded longhorn. If you care to zoom in a bit you’ll understand the subject line.
Vince
Northern Indiana

Mating Longhorns
Mating Longhorns

Dear Vince,
These mating beetles may be the Banded Longhorn, Typocerus velutinus, or they may be one of the 15 other members of the genus identified on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Prominent genus of flower longhorns. Many, if not most, have a zebra-like or spotted pattern. This is probably mimicry of hymenoptera. Several are distinctively marked on elytra: T. velutina, zebra, lunulatus. However there is some variability, some T. velutina, in particular, are weakly marked. Other species must be identified under magnification or from very high-quality photographs. These include T. acuticauda and T. deceptus.
”  Thanks for sending your graphic photo of a mating pair.

Letter 5 – Six Banded Longhorn

 

Cincinnati Bug
Location: Cincinnati OH
July 8, 2011 8:16 am
I found this little guy and thought he was very interesting. Please identify the species..thanks!
Signature: Gretchen

Six Banded Longhorn

Hi Gretchen,
We are thrilled to post your photo of a Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus, a species that BugGuide lists as:  “Species of Concern – USFWS Uncommon (3) and listed as rare and threatened on several state websites.  Species is ‘widely scattered and populations are sparse’ (1)  Rare (4)   Dury (1902) noted that Dryobius sexnotatus was once abundant but was even then becoming rare. Perry et al. (1974) noted a sharp decline in the collection of the species since 1942.”

Letter 6 – Six Banded Longhorn Beetles are rare and threatened!!!

 

Subject: Borer, hickory?
Location: Nashville, Tn
June 29, 2014 9:26 am
These bright yellow bugs are unlike any I have seen. They have a lot more yellow, and the pattern is different than all the other pics on your site. Can you identify this for me? They are all over a Hackberry tree. I did not see any Hackberry borers on your site. Is there such a thing?
Signature: Tanya

Six Banded Longhorn Beetles
Six Banded Longhorn Beetles

Dear Tanya,
Your images are very blurry, and though the details are absent, it is possible to make out the bold markings and bright colors on these Six Banded Longhorn Beetles,
Dryobius sexnotatus, which appear to be mating.  According to BugGuide:  “Primary host: sugar maple (Acer saccharum) (4) (larvae bore in living and dead trees); also basswood, beech, linden and rarely elm (1) Can maintain itself on other hosts for a short period, but survival seems to depend on the availability of large, very old (overmature) sugar maple trees (Perry et al. 1974).”  BugGuide also notes:  “Uncommon/rare (3)(4); widely scattered, populations are sparse (1); listed as rare and threatened on several state websites.  Dury (1902) noted that D. sexnotatus was once abundant but was even then becoming rare.  Perry et al. (1974) noted a sharp decline in the collection since 1942.”

Awesome! Thank you very much for getting back with me! Are they still rare? They were mating quite aggressively a few weeks ago .. lol.
I also inquired about a spined micrathena spider, also a blurry pic. I have attached a better one. Quite beautiful color!

To the best of our knowledge, the Six Banded Longhorn Beetle is still rare.  We did see the Micrathena image, and we did not post it because of the poor quality of the image.  The significance of the Six Banded Longhorn Beetle sighting prompted us to post despite the poor image quality.  We like to choose high quality images for posting whenever possible unless there is some other significant reason, like a great letter, that will encourage our staff to post blurrier images.

Letter 7 – Two Banded Longhorn from Scotland: Rhagium mordax

 

Subject: Insect identification
Location: Scotland
May 24, 2015 12:38 pm
hi there was wondering if you could identify this for me please
Signature: ???

Two Banded Longhorn
Two Banded Longhorn

Dear ???,
Despite being on the internet for over 13 years with over 20,000 unique postings on our site, we posted our first ever image of a Two Banded Longhorn,
Rhagium bifasciatum, from Ireland just yesterday.  Your submission is now the second representative of the species on our site, leading us to believe that this year may have a greater than usual annual population of the species.

Letter 8 – Endangered Six Banded Longhorn

 

Subject:  What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Virginia
Date: 06/19/2019
Time: 08:46 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Do you know what bug this is? Found in Virginia on a dead tree stump.
How you want your letter signed:  Renny

Six Banded Longhorn

Dear Renny,
This is a very exciting sighting for us.  Thanks to images posted to BugGuide, we are confident your gorgeous beetle is a Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is:  “Old growth hardwood forests; mostly in large, very old deteriorating sugar maple trees that have been wounded/scarred; adults hide under bark. In PA, all of the sugar maples observed were very old and at least 3 ft across. Most sites are located in stream valleys.”  BugGuide also notes:  “Uncommon/rare; widely scattered, populations are sparse; listed as rare or threatened by several states, e.g. considered a SGCN [Species of Greatest Conservation Need] by AR, LA, and VA Dury (1902) noted that D. sexnotatus was once abundant but was even then becoming rare.  Perry et al. (1974) noted a sharp decline in the collection since 1942.”

Letter 9 – Endangered Six Banded Longhorn

 

Subject:  Longhorn Beetle?
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Virginia
Date: 07/23/2019
Time: 08:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this crawling in a stack of lumber in the woods here in Northern Virginia. I thought it might be a type of longhorn beetle, but couldn’t find any that matched the coloring pattern. Any thoughts? Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Danny

Six Banded Longhorn

Dear Danny,
This is a Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus, and according to BugGuide:  “Uncommon/rare; widely scattered, populations are sparse ; listed as rare or threatened by several states, e.g. considered a SGCN by AR, LA, and VA. “

Letter 10 – Endangered Six Banded Longhorn in Oklahoma

 

Subject:  Is this a six-banded longhorn beetle?
Geographic location of the bug:  Harrison, OH
Date: 07/11/2021
Time: 11:26 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This was in our house and I think I found it to be a six-banded longhorn beetle. Are they endangered?
How you want your letter signed:  Joy McCombs

Six Banded Longhorn

Dear Joy,
This is indeed a Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus, and BugGuide has reports from Oklahoma.  According to BugGuide:  “Uncommon/rare; widely scattered, populations are sparse; listed as rare or threatened by several states, e.g. considered a SGCN by AR, LA, and VA
Dury (1902) noted that D. sexnotatus was once abundant but was even then becoming rare.
Perry et al. (1974) noted a sharp decline in the collection since 1942.

Letter 11 – Six Banded Longhorn

 

Subject:  longhorn beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  southern indiana
Date: 07/11/2021
Time: 12:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this out my back door on my porch.  Think that it is a longhorn beetle but apparently there are 26000 varieties.
Wondered what variety it is.
How you want your letter signed:  Pat

Six Banded Longhorn

Dear Pat,
We can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to browse through 26,000 species of Cerambycids to learn the identity of your endangered Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus.  Daniel posted an image yesterday of an individual in Oklahoma that was also submitted on July 11.

Letter 1 – Six Banded Longhorn

 

WTB??
I live in northern KY. This bug was found on Northern KY University’s campus in May or June. He is probably about an inch long, flies and his antennae are long and hairy. What is he???
Shannon

Hi Shannon,
But for the extreme hairiness of the antennae, your beetle is a near perfect match to the Six Banded Longhorn, Dryobius sexnotatus, pictured on BugGuide. BugGuide also indicates it is “Uncommon (2)and listed as rare and endangered on several websites.”

Update: (08/28/2008)
Daniel:
The longhorned beetle is identified correctly. Some images show how hairy the antennae are, and some images don’t. It is all in the lighting and resolution. I lived in Cincinnati (across the Ohio River from No. Kentucky U.) for eleven years, and never saw a Dryobius in all the time I spent in forested areas there.
Eric

Letter 2 – Six Banded Longhorn Beetle

 

what is this bug?
I found this bug this morning right next to my front steps. Can you tell me what it is. We are located in Middle Tennessee.It is appro. 1 inch long body with the antennas being appro. 2 inches long. picture attached …THanks and awaiting your answer.
Rodney

Hi Rodney,
How exciting for us. This is a new species for our site: A Six Banded Longhorn Beetle, Dryobius sexnotatus. According to Eric Eaton on BugGuide, it is considered rare throughout its range.

Letter 3 – Mating Banded Longhorns

 

Mating Beetles / Northern Michigan
Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 9:15 AM
These beetles were all over a small meadow next to our cottage in Maple City Michigan during the first week of August, 2008. Caught these two mating. Ooh la la… I have no idea what kind they are and haven’t been able to ID them on my own.
Your site is wonderful! Thanks!
Jeff
Maple City Michigan, USA

Mating Banded Longhorns
Mating Banded Longhorns

Hi Jeff,
Your mating beetles are Banded Longhorns, Typocerus velutinus, in the group known as Flower Longhorns.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on decaying hardwoods such as oak, hickory. Adults usually found in daytime, but do come to lights, so probably somewhat nocturnal. “

Letter 4 – Mating Banded Longhorns, or closely related species

 

fiber optic penis?
July 26, 2009
I knew that subject line would get your attention. I recently took some pics worthy of your BUG LOVE page, but I didn’t know what kind of beetles they were. Then today I checked your site and there it is- a banded longhorn. If you care to zoom in a bit you’ll understand the subject line.
Vince
Northern Indiana

Mating Longhorns
Mating Longhorns

Dear Vince,
These mating beetles may be the Banded Longhorn, Typocerus velutinus, or they may be one of the 15 other members of the genus identified on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Prominent genus of flower longhorns. Many, if not most, have a zebra-like or spotted pattern. This is probably mimicry of hymenoptera. Several are distinctively marked on elytra: T. velutina, zebra, lunulatus. However there is some variability, some T. velutina, in particular, are weakly marked. Other species must be identified under magnification or from very high-quality photographs. These include T. acuticauda and T. deceptus.
”  Thanks for sending your graphic photo of a mating pair.

Letter 5 – Six Banded Longhorn

 

Cincinnati Bug
Location: Cincinnati OH
July 8, 2011 8:16 am
I found this little guy and thought he was very interesting. Please identify the species..thanks!
Signature: Gretchen

Six Banded Longhorn

Hi Gretchen,
We are thrilled to post your photo of a Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus, a species that BugGuide lists as:  “Species of Concern – USFWS Uncommon (3) and listed as rare and threatened on several state websites.  Species is ‘widely scattered and populations are sparse’ (1)  Rare (4)   Dury (1902) noted that Dryobius sexnotatus was once abundant but was even then becoming rare. Perry et al. (1974) noted a sharp decline in the collection of the species since 1942.”

Letter 6 – Six Banded Longhorn Beetles are rare and threatened!!!

 

Subject: Borer, hickory?
Location: Nashville, Tn
June 29, 2014 9:26 am
These bright yellow bugs are unlike any I have seen. They have a lot more yellow, and the pattern is different than all the other pics on your site. Can you identify this for me? They are all over a Hackberry tree. I did not see any Hackberry borers on your site. Is there such a thing?
Signature: Tanya

Six Banded Longhorn Beetles
Six Banded Longhorn Beetles

Dear Tanya,
Your images are very blurry, and though the details are absent, it is possible to make out the bold markings and bright colors on these Six Banded Longhorn Beetles,
Dryobius sexnotatus, which appear to be mating.  According to BugGuide:  “Primary host: sugar maple (Acer saccharum) (4) (larvae bore in living and dead trees); also basswood, beech, linden and rarely elm (1) Can maintain itself on other hosts for a short period, but survival seems to depend on the availability of large, very old (overmature) sugar maple trees (Perry et al. 1974).”  BugGuide also notes:  “Uncommon/rare (3)(4); widely scattered, populations are sparse (1); listed as rare and threatened on several state websites.  Dury (1902) noted that D. sexnotatus was once abundant but was even then becoming rare.  Perry et al. (1974) noted a sharp decline in the collection since 1942.”

Awesome! Thank you very much for getting back with me! Are they still rare? They were mating quite aggressively a few weeks ago .. lol.
I also inquired about a spined micrathena spider, also a blurry pic. I have attached a better one. Quite beautiful color!

To the best of our knowledge, the Six Banded Longhorn Beetle is still rare.  We did see the Micrathena image, and we did not post it because of the poor quality of the image.  The significance of the Six Banded Longhorn Beetle sighting prompted us to post despite the poor image quality.  We like to choose high quality images for posting whenever possible unless there is some other significant reason, like a great letter, that will encourage our staff to post blurrier images.

Letter 7 – Two Banded Longhorn from Scotland: Rhagium mordax

 

Subject: Insect identification
Location: Scotland
May 24, 2015 12:38 pm
hi there was wondering if you could identify this for me please
Signature: ???

Two Banded Longhorn
Two Banded Longhorn

Dear ???,
Despite being on the internet for over 13 years with over 20,000 unique postings on our site, we posted our first ever image of a Two Banded Longhorn,
Rhagium bifasciatum, from Ireland just yesterday.  Your submission is now the second representative of the species on our site, leading us to believe that this year may have a greater than usual annual population of the species.

Letter 8 – Endangered Six Banded Longhorn

 

Subject:  What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Virginia
Date: 06/19/2019
Time: 08:46 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Do you know what bug this is? Found in Virginia on a dead tree stump.
How you want your letter signed:  Renny

Six Banded Longhorn

Dear Renny,
This is a very exciting sighting for us.  Thanks to images posted to BugGuide, we are confident your gorgeous beetle is a Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is:  “Old growth hardwood forests; mostly in large, very old deteriorating sugar maple trees that have been wounded/scarred; adults hide under bark. In PA, all of the sugar maples observed were very old and at least 3 ft across. Most sites are located in stream valleys.”  BugGuide also notes:  “Uncommon/rare; widely scattered, populations are sparse; listed as rare or threatened by several states, e.g. considered a SGCN [Species of Greatest Conservation Need] by AR, LA, and VA Dury (1902) noted that D. sexnotatus was once abundant but was even then becoming rare.  Perry et al. (1974) noted a sharp decline in the collection since 1942.”

Letter 9 – Endangered Six Banded Longhorn

 

Subject:  Longhorn Beetle?
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Virginia
Date: 07/23/2019
Time: 08:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this crawling in a stack of lumber in the woods here in Northern Virginia. I thought it might be a type of longhorn beetle, but couldn’t find any that matched the coloring pattern. Any thoughts? Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Danny

Six Banded Longhorn

Dear Danny,
This is a Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus, and according to BugGuide:  “Uncommon/rare; widely scattered, populations are sparse ; listed as rare or threatened by several states, e.g. considered a SGCN by AR, LA, and VA. “

Letter 10 – Endangered Six Banded Longhorn in Oklahoma

 

Subject:  Is this a six-banded longhorn beetle?
Geographic location of the bug:  Harrison, OH
Date: 07/11/2021
Time: 11:26 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This was in our house and I think I found it to be a six-banded longhorn beetle. Are they endangered?
How you want your letter signed:  Joy McCombs

Six Banded Longhorn

Dear Joy,
This is indeed a Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus, and BugGuide has reports from Oklahoma.  According to BugGuide:  “Uncommon/rare; widely scattered, populations are sparse; listed as rare or threatened by several states, e.g. considered a SGCN by AR, LA, and VA
Dury (1902) noted that D. sexnotatus was once abundant but was even then becoming rare.
Perry et al. (1974) noted a sharp decline in the collection since 1942.

Letter 11 – Six Banded Longhorn

 

Subject:  longhorn beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  southern indiana
Date: 07/11/2021
Time: 12:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this out my back door on my porch.  Think that it is a longhorn beetle but apparently there are 26000 varieties.
Wondered what variety it is.
How you want your letter signed:  Pat

Six Banded Longhorn

Dear Pat,
We can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to browse through 26,000 species of Cerambycids to learn the identity of your endangered Six Banded Longhorn,
Dryobius sexnotatus.  Daniel posted an image yesterday of an individual in Oklahoma that was also submitted on July 11.

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