Golden Buprestid: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide

The Golden Buprestid, scientifically known as Buprestis aurulenta, is an intriguing species of beetle belonging to the Buprestidae family. These visually stunning insects exhibit a striking iridescent golden-green or blue-green color, making them an eye-catching sight in their natural habitats. Besides their remarkable appearance, these beetles have become a subject of interest for scientists, nature enthusiasts, and hobbyists alike.

Native to North America, Golden Buprestids are predominantly found in the western regions, including the United States and Canada. These beetles are known to inhabit mainly coniferous forests, where they feed on and breed in various softwood trees such as pine, spruce, and fir. Their life cycle is quite fascinating, with larvae taking several years to fully develop, and adults displaying unique behaviors such as the ability to “play dead” when threatened.

Golden Buprestid Beetle Identification

Physical Characteristics

The Golden Buprestid Beetle (Buprestis aurulenta) is known for its striking appearance. Some key features include:

  • Brilliant green and golden-orange structural coloration
  • Adults are about 19-mm long

These beetles are wood borers, mainly feeding on various species of conifers1.

Male Vs Female

Distinguishing between male and female Golden Buprestid beetles is not typically easy as they closely resemble each other. However, males may have slightly longer antennae than females2.

Geographical Range

Golden Buprestids can be found in:

  • Northwestern United States
  • Western Canada3

These beetles lay their eggs in recently dead or dying trees, making their geographical range closely related to the presence of conifer forests4.

Footnotes

  1. Insects of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

  2. Oregon State University Research

  3. Skagit County, Washington State University

  4. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Reader Emails

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

Letter 1 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject: Beetle ID
Location: NE Washington State
May 18, 2016 10:02 am
Very pretty. About 1″ long. In a dry pine site that was recently logged.
Signature: Sue

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Dear Sue,
This positively gorgeous Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle from the family Buprestidae is aptly called a Golden Buprestid,
Buprestis aurulenta.  Developing larvae have their normal life cycle interrupted when the trees they are boring in are cut and milled.  The larvae seem to go into a suspended animation and emerge many years later.  We created a posting of a Golden Buprestid that emerged from a pine cutting board after eight years, and the record is allegedly 51 years.

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Letter 2 – Golden Buprestid

 

Thanks to you…
We think that we have identified this little guy as Buprestis decora. He showed up in our attic, here in Portland Oregon tonight. Thanks,
Gregor

Hi Gregor,
We believe you have the correct genus but the wrong species. We believe this to be the Golden Buprestid or Jewell Beetle, Buprestis aurulenta. This beauty is relatively common in the Pacific Northwest.

Letter 3 – Golden Buprestid or Jewel Beetle

 

Beautiful Iridescent Green Beetle – British Columbia
I posted this last week, then realized that I should have given it a better
title to attract your attention, as you are probably swamped. The picture alone might be worth posting. This was photographed on Denman Island, BC. Can you identify this beautiful iridescent green beetle? It was a deep chrome reddish colour on its underside, like the colour on the edges of its wing covers. The beetle in the photo was about 3/4" long and pretty docile. Regards,
Mike

Hi Mike,
A catchy subject line always catches our eye. This gorgeous beetle is a Golden Burprestid, Cypriacis aurulenta. According to BugGuide, they are relatively common in the Pacific Northwest. They are also known as Jewel Beetles, a name that needs no explanation. Your photograph is gorgeous.

Letter 4 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject: Beetle
Location: Portland, Oregon
February 19, 2017 5:13 pm
I found this beetle indoors today. I think it is a Golden Buprestid Beetle. I want to know if it is a good bug or a bad bug.
Signature: Lois Biz

Golden Buprestid

Dear Lois,
We agree that this is a Golden Buprestid, but when it comes to insects, “good” and “bad” are such relative terms.  Since the native range of the Golden Buprestid includes Oregon, this is a native species for you and native species occupy a place in the food chain as well as in the complicated, interconnected web of life in an ecosystem that we feel compelled to maintain that all native species are good in the overall scheme of things.  Introduced species can throw off the balance of life in a geographic region to which they have been introduced if they have no natural enemies to help control their populations, so we often consider introduced species to be problematic in their new homes, a consideration that lead to the creation of the Invasive Exotics tag on our site many years ago.  According to the genus page on BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on wood of various conifers and deciduous trees, incl. Fagus (Beech), Populus (Cottonwood), Acer (Maple), and Quercus (Oak).”  It is our understanding that native Metallic Borer Beetles are never plentiful enough in their native surroundings to do significant damage to healthy trees, unlike the related and introduced Emerald Ash Borer that has decimated populations of Ash trees in eastern North America.  As a point of interest, Golden Buprestids have been known to emerge many years after lumber has been milled.  Seems milling the lumber slows the maturation process, but the larvae are able to survive and continue to feed on the dead wood.

Letter 5 – Goldbug Changes Colors

 

Bicolor Tortoise Beetle (caught in the act!)
Hi bugman!
I really enjoy your web site and thought I’d share my latest bug experience with you! I found this goldbug crawling on my screen door in SW Ohio the other day. I had heard that some tortoise beetles can change colors, so I was excited to determine weather or not this one could change his color too. At the time, he didn’t seem very colorful at all but I decided to pop him in a jar with a morning glory leaf anyway and see if his color changed at all. Well I must say, the color change was quite dramatic to say the least! This little bug can change from a brilliant gold color (while happily munching on his favorite food) to a ladybug color (when annoyed) in an instant! You’ll be happy to know that after his "photo shoot", Mr. Goldbug was allowed to return to his real home out in the yard. Enjoy the attached photos!
sherry

Hi Sherry,
Thank you so much for sending in this dramatic documentation of a Golden Tortoise Beetle, Charidotella sexpunctata according to BugGuide, changing colors. This is the widely spread subspecies Charidotella sexpunctata bicolor and it does feed on morning glories. It is also commonly called the Goldbug.

Letter 6 – Golden Buprestid

 

Iridiscent Green, copper belly beatle bug
Hello, Congrats on a Fascinatng and Useful Site!
Attached are 2 shots: top & belly view of most beautiful beatle type bug, iridescent green on top and copper underneath. Discovered under my T-shirt against my skin when I felt a slight prickle. Knowing it had to be a live critter, I ran up from crew quarters on our yacht where I had just been sorting through some unopened wine stores, and asked my husband to please remove whatever had just nibbled at me. I was afraid if I looked before it was removed, I might just lose my composure. We were about 10 minutes from casting off. I don’t know if I brought the bug on board or if it had been lurking in the stateroom waiting for transportation. We live in a condo in downtown Vancouver, BC, and our boat has never been more than 30 miles from its slip near us since we brought it from Florida 2 years ago. I’ve never seen a bug like this. As you can see from the photos, it is quite spectacular. My husband wrapped it in a tissue, flattened the poor thing to put it out of its misery, but evidently he didn’t quite do the dastardly deed because when we opened its shroud a day later, we saw it had tried to chew its way out and the tissue had a few large holes. From the belly shot, you can see its poor little legs all folded tidily after its futile struggle. What is it? Thank you from the Pacific Northwest.
Mary Ann

Hi Mary Ann,
Your Wood Boring Buprestid Beetle is gorgeous. This Family is much prized by collectors. We checked with Eric Eaton to see if he could identify the species. Here is his speedy response: “Pretty sure it is the Golden Buprestid, Cypriacis aurulenta (formerly Buprestis aurulenta). The lighting must be bad. Usually they have a bright copper border around each wing cover. Other possibility is Buprestis adjecta, nearly identical, but usually the raised ridges on the wing covers are closer together and more numerous. Larvae of both bore in dead and dying conifers. Sometimes a golden buprestid larva will get trapped in milled lumber and continue boring for decades (record is 51 years) before emerging as an adult! Who knows why. Eric”

Letter 7 – Goldbug

 

What is this
What kind of bug is this I have never seen 1 like it before it is approximately 1/4" across, hope the pictures help.
Donald S Stolarz
RP Contractor, Inc.
Muskegon, MI

Hi Donald,
Nice photo of a Tortoise Beetle, also known as a Goldbug. This is probably Metriona bicolor. Adults and larvae are often found on morning glories and sometimes roses.

Letter 8 – Goldbug from the Philippines

 

Philippine tortoise beetle
Hello,
This bug was found in the Philippines – Mt. Isarog in the southern part of Luzon. (A professor, a classmate, and I were doing bat ecology research but kept picking up invertebrates that looked cool.) We called it the ‘space
bug’ for a while, then found a specimen in the University of the Philippines at Los Banos which was labeled only "Chrysomelidae". After some searching the internet I found it in on this website:
http://www.biol.uni.wroc.pl/cassidae/katalog%20internetowy/index.htm
Based on the pictures I’m pretty sure it’s in the Aspidimorpha, but can’t figure out which species as they are very similar. The photos on that site are almost all of dead specimens, which is a pity, as the Cassidinae website states on its Introduction page that the Cassidinae have iridescent or metallic colours produced by body fluids between layers of cuticle, which dry out and become opaque after death. This one is recently dead and looked even prettier when it was first caught – clear as glass. You have a wonderful website – very accessible, helpful, and with lots of lovely pictures. Thanks for keeping it going.
Yours sincerely,
Shi-Hsia Hwa

Dear Shi-Hsia Hwa,
Thank you for your informative and complimentary letter. Here in the U.S., Tortoise Beetles are also called Goldbugs because of their irridescent coloration, and similarly, dead specimens loose much of their visual allure.

Letter 9 – Golden Buprestid

 

Shiny Aqua Bug
Hey B-man,
This beautiful bug landed on my leg today and I have no clue what it is! It is shiny aqua-blue-green, kind of like a peacock feather with a copper stripe down its back and it is copper-red on the underside. about a centimeter long with 6 legs and WINGS! his “shell” (or wings?) is very hard he made a “plinking” noise when he fell to the bottom of the cup he is currently in! his “shell” (or wings?) also has lengthwise grooves in the blue part. i hope he shows up OK in this photo. let me know what you think! Thanks,
Gina

Hi Gina,
This gorgeous beetle is a Golden Buprestid, Buprestis aurulenta. Most of our images come from the Pacific Northwest, but you did not indicate where you are located.

Letter 10 – Golden Buprestid

 

Golden Buprestid – a real beauty!
July 14, 2010
Hi there,
I figured out what this lovely beetle is from your site, but wanted to share the photo anyway. This Golden Buprestid was in the forest of the Oregon Coast Range and really shone in the sun! (along with the skin on my hand)
Thanks for this great resource.
Chandra L., Eugene, Oregon
near Alsea, Oregon

Golden Buprestid

Hi Chandra,
Your letter arrived as we were working on the final pass of our book pages, and we did not get to post many letters.  We remembered the subject line and we have been searching the unanswered mail to find you letter.  We are happy the photograph is so nice and that our search was worth the effort.  Thanks for sending us your photo of a Golden Buprestid.  We are happy you were able to identify it on our site and thanks for all your compliments.  Now that we have found and posted your letter, we are going out into the garden to care for our new Aracauna hens.

Letter 11 – Golden Winged Elder Borer

 

What is it?
Hi and great website! Can you identify this beetle for me? It was in Northern Montana and the black part on the back was very iridescent. Thanks in advance.
Bob

Hi Bob,
We are very excited to get your photo. We identified it on BugGuide as the Golden Winged Elder Borer, Desmocerus aureipennis, and there was but a single image on BugGuide. Your specimen sure is a beauty, and there is no indication as to why it is called the Golden Winged Elder Borer. The food is obviously alder, but the golden winged is a mystery.

Thanks for your answer!!
Thank you, Daniel for answering my husbands query about the Golden-Winged Elder Borer. About the Golden-Winged description, the picture did not capture it but when the sun hit it just right it sparkled with different colors. We thought we remembered greens and purples but maybe there was yellows in there too! Have really enjoyed browsing your site and have another query for you if you have time. … Kind Regards,
Joelle

Update: from Eric Eaton
Daniel: Cool! There is another species (or subspecies) in California that is highly endangered (Valley elder borer). Desmocerus are seldom found away from the elderberry host plant.
Eric

Letter 12 – Golden Buprestid

 

What kind of beetle is this?
Hi there,
My family and I were at Government House in Victoria and this beetle landed on one of us. We haven’t been able to find it in a BC insect identification book. It looked similar to the Tiger Beetles on your web page but it had much shorter legs than those. It’s body had a very metallic sheen to it. Thanks for your help!

This beauty is a Golden Buprestid, Buprestis aurulenta, one of the Flat Headed Borers in the family Buprestidae.

Letter 13 – Golden Buprestid

 

Golden Buprestid
Dear Bugman,
My wife found a Golden Buprestid in our bedroom the morning of Mar. 20 here in Eugene, OR. We have no idea how it got there. A photo of it posing on an orange leaf is attached. Your website provided the correct identification. Thanks very much!
Donald Gudehus

Hi Donald,
Thank you for sending in your lovely image of a Golden Buprestid. We have gotten several reports lately of Golden Buprestids emerging from milled wood.

Letter 14 – another Golden Buprestid

 

Invasive species?
Cool website, glad I stumbled upon it. Here’s a beetle I found on the summit of Mt. Myra (5938 feet/ 1810 meters), in Strathcona Provincial Park, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I’ve never seen a beetle like this before, and I’ve lived here all my life. I was wondering, does it really belong here??? What is it? If I recall, it was about 3/4″ long
Darla

Hi Darla,
This is a Golden Buprestid Beetle, the second example we received this week.

Letter 15 – Jewel Beetle: Golden Buprestid

 

What’s this bug?
April 24, 2010
I found two of these eating there way out of an old tree stump. As soon as they ate there way up they sat on the log for awhile drying their wings I presume then flew off. They are a beautiful color of greens and golds.
Patti
Groveland, CA

Golden Buprestid

Dear Patti,
Congratulations on witnessing the emergence of two Golden Buprestids, Buprestis aurulenta, from their larval home. Golden Buprestids are in the family Buprestidae, and those family members are collectively called Jewel Beetles or Metallic Borer Beetles.  The larval stage may last many years, and there are records of adults emerging from previously milled lumber long after the trees were cut.  According to our frequent contributor Eric Eaton:  “The record age for one is an adult that emerged from a baseboard(?) in a Canadian building fully 51 years after the building was erected! Why milled lumber forces such an extended life cycle in woodborers is a mystery, at least as far as I know. Normally, the life cycle would be no more than 2-5 years.

Letter 16 – Golden Buprestid photo wins Blue Ribbon at Canadian County Fair

 

Golden Buprestid photo
Location: Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada
September 15, 2011 2:24 am
We always called these Junebugs but, thanks to you, my photo has been renamed. I was so busy trying to get as close as possible without disturbing the beetle that I didn’t even notice the ant until I edited. I was lucky enough to get a blue ribbon at the local fall fair with the shot.
Signature: BeeCee

Golden Buprestid

Congratulations BeeCee,
You should be proud of your award winning photograph and we are honored to be posting it to our website.  Upon examining the beautiful detail evident in your photo, it is easy to understand why the Golden Buprestid belongs to the family commonly called Jewel Beetles.  The Golden Buprestid may hold the record for the insect with the longest lifespan because of delayed metamorphosis that occasionally occurs with the wood boring larvae.  Several years ago we posted a photo of a Golden Buprestid that allegedly emerged from a cutting board after 8 years.  You can read the full account here. After we made that posting, Eric Eaton provided this comment: “The record age for one is an adult that emerged from a baseboard(?) in a Canadian building fully 51 years after the building was erected! Why milled lumber forces such an extended life cycle in woodborers is a mystery, at least as far as I know. Normally, the life cycle would be no more than 2-5 years.”

Letter 17 – Golden Buprestids

 

Subject: little green beetle
Location: Washington state
November 12, 2014 7:10 pm
Hi!
I’ve been wondering what this beetle is for a while. I live in Washington state, and both photos were taken at the beach in the summer, and both times I spotted the bug on driftwood near the water. I’ve done a few searches to try to find this bug but I cant find a match. At first I though it was an emerald ash borer, which look similar but are definitely not my bug. I hope someone here can help identify my mystery crawly!
Signature: random gal

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Dear Random Gal,
When you mistook this beetle for an Emerald Ash Borer, you at least had the correct family Buprestidae, the Metallic Borer Beetles.  We are pretty certain that these are Golden Buprestids,
Buprestis aurulenta, or a very closely related species, and you can compare your images to those on BugGuide.

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Letter 18 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject: beetles
Location: southern BC, Canada
June 1, 2015 2:24 pm
I am sending 2 pictures of 2 different beetles I have found in the last 2 days. The turquoise/yellow obe was on my peonies and the other one was in the grass.
Signature: Jessica

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Hi Jessica,
Your second beetle in the grass is a Golden Buprestid, a species well documented in the Pacific Northwest, and a member of the family commonly called the Jewel Beetles.
  One of our favorite Golden Buprestid postings is of an individual that emerged from an eight year old cutting board.  We will be postdating your second beetle to go live later in June while we are away from the office.

Letter 19 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject: Metallic green and red bug
Location: Pacific north west.  Seattle, Washington
December 10, 2015 1:20 am
Found this metallic almost Rastafarian type beetle wandering around on the floor of my room. I tried to look it up but wasn’t able to find anything similar to this bug I found so I was hoping you may know.
Signature: Paige

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Dear Paige,
Could you please be a bit more specific about the location.  Washington?  British Columbia???  This is a Golden Buprestid,
Buprestis aurulenta, one of the Jewel Beetles, and you can read more about it on BugGuide.

Letter 20 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject: What is this beautiful beetle?
Location: Seattle, WA
June 2, 2016 7:36 pm
I found this beautiful beetle crawling on my windowsill. I’m located just outside of Seattle, WA and found him in June. I love the iridescent colors on his back. Please tell me what he is
Signature: Jessie

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Dear Jessie,
This gorgeous Jewel Beetle or Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae is commonly called a Golden Buprestid.

Letter 21 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject: Jewel Bug?
Location: Powell River, B.C. Canada
July 6, 2016 6:30 pm
The sunlight reflecting off this small little bug is what got my attention. I tried to get a picture before it flew away…the original photo being about 3 feet away. I’ve never seen this kind of bug before, and posted the picture on social media in an attempt to identify it. The only answers I got was that it was a June Bug, which I disagreed. Through your wonderful site, i narrowed it down to a Jewel Bug, or a Golden Flatheaded borer. Any final clarification would be great, but I would also enjoy sharing this picture with others if it is of a quality good enough for you to use.
Signature: Yvonne Kelshaw

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Dear Yvonne,
Your self-identification is basically correct, but we would like to make a few clarifications.  This is a Golden Buprestid,
Buprestis aurulenta.  The members of the family Buprestidae are sometimes called Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles.  Jewel Bug is a common name for a Shield Bug in the family Scutelleridae.

Letter 22 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject: Metallic Green Beetle
Location: Gaston, Oregon
November 8, 2016 12:11 pm
I found this little guy crawling across my carpet this morning. It’s a glittery green, with copper edges. About 15mm long. It pulled in its legs and played dead when I poked at it. Found on November 8, in Gaston, Oregon; a rural area. Thanks!
Signature: Colin F

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Dear Colin,
This beautiful beetle is a Golden Buprestid, a species with wood boring larvae.  Occasionally we receive reports of adults that emerge from milled lumber after many years.

Golden Buprestid
Golden Buprestid

Letter 23 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject:  Shiny green smooth Beetle?
Geographic location of the bug:  4 pm downtown Hillsboro, OR, May 23, 2018, sunny 90 degree day
Date: 05/23/2018
Time: 02:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Trying to identify this bug/beetle and not having success.  Any help would be appreciated.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks in advance

Golden Buprestid

At first we thought this might be a Golden Buprestid or possibly a related species Buprestis adjecta which is pictured on BugGuide, but we will do additional research on the species.

Letter 24 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject:  Glittery Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Little Cottonwood Canyon Utah
Date: 07/24/2019
Time: 10:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This beetle shimmered like glitter in the sunlight. We saw it at Tanners Flat campground in July.
How you want your letter signed:  Tyson Cramer

Golden Buprestid

Dear Tyson,
Your beautiful beetle is one of the Metallic Borer Beetles in the family Buprestidae.  It is a Golden Buprestid,
Buprestis aurulenta, and here is a BugGuide image for corroboration.  We have a letter in our archives regarding a Golden Buprestid that emerged from an eight year old cutting board.

Letter 25 – Golden Buprestid

 

Subject:  Rainbow beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Western Washington state
Date: 06/21/2020
Time: 06:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What kind of bug is this ?
How you want your letter signed:  The Alvarados

Golden Buprestid

Dear Alvarados,
This beautiful beetle is a Golden Buprestid,
Buprestis aurulenta.  It is pictured on iNaturalist.

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    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.

20 thoughts on “Golden Buprestid: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide”

    • Hi Eric,
      Thanks so much for signing up so you can comment directly. Though I agree that the Golden Buprestid is a gorgeous beetle, I have to say my own favorite west coast beetle is the California Laurel Borer, though sadly, I have never seen a living specimen.
      Daniel
      P.S. Seems you duplicated your comment and I sent one to the trash.

      Reply
  1. I doubt you are still wanting to close out this ID after so many years, but based on my own searches I have come across a pic of Aspidomorpha sanctaecrcis that looks very much like your bug. It comes from an book of Hong Kong Insects put out by Friends of the Country Parks and the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Dept.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for your photos and ID! When I turned a dead one onto its back, it was all copper-colored! Does that sound right? This was in rural forested Amity, Oregon!

    Reply

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