Black Fire Beetle

Subject: bug
Location: alaska
August 14, 2016 8:55 pm
howdy this bug bites what is it pleasr
Signature: ok

Black Fire Beetle
Black Fire Beetle

Dear ok,
We immediately recognized this as a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle from the family Buprestidae, and when we researched species in Alaska, we discovered, much to our delight, that this appears to be a Black Fire Beetle or Fire Bug,
Melanophila acuminata, which according to a poster on BugGuide, is “famously known for its habit of flocking to freshly burned and sometimes still smoldering pine trees to mate and oviposit.”  According to the University of Alaska at Alberta Entomology site:  “Evans (Ecology 47:1061-1065,1966) demonstrated that these beetles can detect, infrared sources using paired receptors situated on the mesothorax near the coxal cavities and orientate towards the heat source. The structure of these receptors, are figured in Evans and Kuster (Can. Ent. 112:211-216,1980). Adults continue to be attracted to burned trees in the year following a fire.”  The site also states:  “These beetles may use most any conifer for larval development (Bright 1987). In Alberta it has been reared from white spruce and fire killed jack pine.”  According to the Montana State University site, the host trees include ” Balsam Fir, Grand Fir, Yellow Birch, Monterey Cypress, White Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, Eastern White Pine, Red Pine, Northern White-cedar; adults – various species of spruce, pine, cedar ” and “Size: 8-12mm”  which seems right for your individual if that is a pierced earring in your image.  Was this individual by chance found near a recent fire?

Facebook Comment from Melissa
Ah, yes. Crawling up your pants leg and gnawing on your skin is what they excel at! We firefighters just call them Little Bitey B*stards because they show up to every fire by the thousands.

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