Flat Headed Borer Larva: Hippomelas sphenicus maybe

Mesquite Larvae
December 1, 2009
Found inside an aged mesquite log in Scottsdale, AZ. What is it? What will it turn into and in how long? Pest? Affects other wood, or just mesquite? If pest, natural predators?
Sergio Vie
Scottsdale, AZ

Flat Headed Borer Larva
Flat Headed Borer Larva

Hi Sergio,
This is a Flat Headed Borer Beetle Larva in the family Buprestidae, often called the Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles.  We believe, based on your location and the host plant, that it is Hippomelas sphenicus.  We are providing a link to BugGuide with an image of the adult beetle.  It is also pictured on the Sonoran Desert Naturalist website.

13 thoughts on “Flat Headed Borer Larva: Hippomelas sphenicus maybe”

    • There are many species in the family across North America and it is difficult to distinguish one species from another in the larval stage.

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  1. Huntsville, Alabama, I split some logs that have been sitting for sevefral months and was from a dead tree that fell in my yard. There are 20-30 in each 8 inch round 12 inch long log.

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  2. Hired to remove 4 dead cypress trees here In Riverside California and took the wood home to split and burn, every biscuit I split 5-10 of these little guys fell out there were I’d estimate somewhere in the ball figure of 100-150 of these guys infesting these 4 trees I read that they go for stressed/dyeing and/or dead woods but the high numbers which infested these trees is suspect at best.

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  3. I just wonder if these werms give the mesquite wood its taste or not. In this part of the country mesquite is the most abundant cooking wood we have and you can’t get rid of all those creepy, little critters. All I can say is, I’m over 50 and I’m not dead yet, so t the very least they are not poisonous.

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  4. How do I get rid of these, do I have to remove the whole tree or can I use a pesticide? I love the tree and want to try and keep it.

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  5. Down the road a bit here but found this both helpful and interesting. I had a huge elm here in central Oklahoma that was lightning struck and as it wasn’t situated to present any appreciable danger to anyone I left it to fall (took two years and a high wind storm) on it’s on. Took almost another year to getting around to cutting it up and I spilt some of it as it was completely dry (but not particularly rotted) for marginal firewood. It was full of these little “hammerhead worms” as I called them; not knowing for certain what they were.

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