The Goldsmith Beetle, scientifically known as Cotalpa lanigera, is a stunning insect highly regarded for its beauty. Belonging to the family Rutilidae, also known as golden-gleaming ones, these beetles are truly a sight to behold with their gleaming exterior and unique characteristics.
Native to North America, Goldsmith Beetles can often be found in areas with an abundance of vegetation. These short-lived insects typically lay their eggs in the ground during June, making it the last time they’re usually spotted for the year.
Goldsmith Beetle Identification
The Goldsmith Beetle, also known as Cotalpa lanigera, is a member of the Scarabaeidae family and has a unique appearance. Key physical traits of this beetle include:
- Size: They are relatively large, with a length of around 1 inch1
- Shape: This beetle has an oval-shaped body with a rounded thorax and head
- Legs: It possesses six legs which are useful for crawling on surfaces2
Metallic Sheen and Color
The Goldsmith Beetle is also known for its striking, metallic appearance3 and the colors that help distinguish it from other beetles:
- Yellow: The body of the Goldsmith Beetle is primarily a bright yellow hue
- Green: Some specimens exhibit a slight greenish tint depending on the lighting4
- Brown: On rare occasions, Goldsmith Beetles appear brownish due to natural pigment variations
One of its distinctive features that makes it easy to identify this beetle is its resemblance to the shining leaf chafer5. Both these beetles have a shiny, round, metallic appearance. However, there are differences in their colors.
|Feature||Goldsmith Beetle||Shining Leaf Chafer|
|Primary Color||Yellow (with a possible greenish or brownish tint)||Green (with a possible bronze or reddish sheen)|
|Shape||Oval-shaped body with a rounded thorax and head||Similar body shape, but slightly smaller and more elongated|
|Metallic Sheen||Both have a metallic sheen that makes their colors appear shiny and iridescent|
In summary, the Goldsmith Beetle can be identified by its distinct physical characteristics and its unique metallic sheen and color. Keep these features in mind when trying to spot this fascinating beetle in the wild.
Habitat and Distribution
North America Range
The Goldsmith Beetle (Cotalpa lanigera) can be found in the eastern and central parts of the United States, as well as southeastern Canada1. Some examples of regions where they can be found include:
- Eastern United States
- Central United States
- Southeastern Canada
Woodlands and Deciduous Forests
Goldsmith Beetles prefer to inhabit woodlands and deciduous forests, particularly around trees such as willow, poplar, cottonwood, and oak2. Their preference for specific tree types is summarized in the table below:
|Willow||Black Willow, Weeping Willow|
|Poplar||Eastern Cottonwood, Quaking Aspen|
|Cottonwood||Fremont Cottonwood, Swamp Cottonwood|
|Oak||White Oak, Red Oak|
These beetles play a role in maintaining the health of these ecosystems, making them an important part of the woodland and deciduous forest habitats.
Life Cycle and Reproduction
Female Scattering Eggs
Goldsmith Beetles, belonging to the family Scarabaeidae, reproduce when the female beetle scatters her eggs in and around an appropriate environment. A female lays anywhere from 45 to 285 eggs per year, ensuring the continuation of their species.
Once hatched, the larvae of the Goldsmith Beetle begin their life cycle by burrowing into the ground. They typically
prefer land under present tillage and feed on the roots of plants, as they grow and develop.
Features of Goldsmith Beetle larvae:
- White or tan in color
- Feed on plant roots
- Burrow in the ground during development
Pupation and Earthen Cells
As the larvae reach maturity, they go through a pupation process, forming earthen cells to protect themselves during metamorphosis. The beetle remains in this stage for around 7 to 10 days before emerging as an adult Goldsmith Beetle, ready to mate and restart the cycle.
Pros and cons of Goldsmith Beetle’s reproduction method:
- Short life cycle, ensuring rapid growth in population
- High number of eggs laid by females increases the chances of offspring survival
- Burrowing larvae can cause damage to plant roots
- Larvae’s feeding habits might make them a pest in agricultural settings
Comparison of Goldsmith Beetle’s life cycle with typical insects:
|Stage||Goldsmith Beetles||Typical Insects|
|Egg||Laid by female||Laid by female|
|Larval||Burrow in soil||Various habitats|
|Pupation||Earthen cells||Cocoon or chrysalis|
|Adult||Mating and egg-laying||Mating and egg-laying|
In summary, Goldsmith Beetles have a unique life cycle and reproduction process that involves female scattering of eggs, larvae burrowing, and pupation in earthen cells. These life stages are essential for the continued existence of this beautiful beetle.
Diet and Food Sources
Leaves and Woody Material
The primary food source for Goldsmith Beetles is leaves, and they have a preference for certain types of foliage. One such example is hickory leaves, which provide essential nutrients for their growth and well-being.
Another essential food source for these beetles is rotting logs. Goldsmith Beetles are commonly found in these habitats, as they provide an ideal environment for their feeding and reproduction.
- Primarily feed on leaves
- Prefer hickory leaves
- Utilize rotting logs
|Habitat||Type of Food Source||Preferred by Goldsmith Beetles|
|Rotting Logs||Decomposing wood||Yes|
Goldsmith Beetles rely on a variety of plant-based food sources, ensuring they receive the necessary nutrients from their environment. Short sentences and paragraphs, as well as formatting options like bullet points and tables, have been utilized to make this text easy to read and understand.
Goldsmith Beetle in Popular Culture
The Goldsmith Beetle, known as Cotalpa lanigera, holds a significant place in popular culture, particularly in literature. One of its most notable appearances is in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Gold-Bug.” This story revolves around a gold-colored beetle that leads the protagonist to discover a hidden treasure.
Some possible literary influences related to the Goldsmith Beetle are:
- Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold-Bug”: The gold-colored beetle is at the center of the plot, symbolizing mystery and adventure.
- Samuel Lockwood’s description: The Reverend Samuel Lockwood described the Goldsmith Beetle as one of the most beautiful beetles in North America, emphasizing its golden appearance and belonging to the “golden-gleaming” family Rutilidae.
The Goldsmith Beetle’s remarkable appearance has been a source of inspiration in literature, due to its striking golden hue and intriguing behavior.
Key Features of the Goldsmith Beetle:
- Brilliant metallic golden color
- Short-lived, mainly seen in June
- May lay eggs in the ground during June
Characteristics of the Goldsmith Beetle:
- Belongs to the Rutilidae family
- Known for its beauty and golden-gleaming appearance
While the Goldsmith Beetle isn’t widely present in popular culture, its appearance in Poe’s iconic work solidifies its connection to literary history and highlights its unique allure in storytelling.
Caution against Pests
The Goldsmith Beetle (Cotalpa lanigera) belongs to the subfamily Rutelinae within the Coleoptera order. While these beetles are not generally known to be harmful pests, it’s crucial to monitor their population. Keeping their numbers in check is essential to prevent potential damage to crops and plants.
Images and Resources
If you’re looking for images and resources to learn more about Goldsmith Beetles, BugGuide provides an extensive collection, including photographs, range distribution, and information on the genus. Additionally:
- Goldsmith Beetles have a distinct copper color on their head and pronotum, making them easily identifiable.
- Their range is primarily in the eastern and central parts of North America.
To better understand the differences between Goldsmith Beetles and similar beetles, consider this comparison table:
|Feature||Goldsmith Beetle||Grapevine Beetle||May/June Beetle|
|Color||Copper/golden||Yellow with black spots||Brown|
|Range||Eastern and central North America||Eastern North America||Worldwide|
Among their fascinating characteristics, Goldsmith Beetles have:
- Hooks on their legs, which aid in climbing
- Short life span
- Attraction to areas with present tillage
By exploring various resources, you’ll be able to learn more about this amazing beetle and its unique features. Don’t hesitate to dive deeper into the genus to discover fascinating facts about the Goldsmith Beetle and the greater Coleoptera family.
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 – Goldsmith Beetle
Big Yellow Beetle (Specifics Needed)
Sun, May 24, 2009 at 3:02 PM
Dear What’s That Bug,
My family was enjoying a walk through town recently when the youngest of us stumbled across this bumbling bug. Physiologically this looks like a typical Junebug, but the extraordinary colors seem to say different. Is this a special type of Junebug, or just a rare color morph?
Central Massachusetts, Suburban
Dear Backyard Entomologist,
The Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera, is also known as a Gold bug, and according to BugGuide “This was supposedly Poe’s Gold-bug , according to the account at Clemson .” BugGuide also indicates: “Adults feed on willow, poplar foliage” and “Female scatters eggs on soil near a tree. Larvae burrow to reach their food source, rotting logs and roots. They pupate at the end of one or two years in earthen cells.” BugGuide also states “This beetle is usually listed as uncommon.” This is a very exciting posting for us, both because of the rarity of the Goldsmith Beetle, and because of the Poe reference for the Gold Bug.
Letter 2 – Goldsmith Beetle
May 30, 2010
Hoping you can help me identify this bug.
half hour north of the Twin Cities
We believe the Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera, may the loveliest North American beetle. As a family, we love the Blister Beetles, and the Stag Beetle is quite noble, but for shear beauty, we believe the Goldsmith Beetle takes the cake. There is much speculation that the Goldsmith Beetle is the Gold Bug of Edgar Allen Poe fame. You may read more about the Goldsmith Beetle on BugGuide.
Letter 3 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Yet another Goldsmith “Bug” !
Geographic location of the bug: Gloucester, Va
Time: 03:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I wrote you back in 2015 when I found my 1st Goldsmith beetle. I have since found at least 1 or 2 each year in the same location… My garage! Of course they are always moved to safety in the backyard, just as this one that I found today has been. Just thought I’d share another picture of this glorious find!
How you want your letter signed: Holly G
Dear Holly G,
How wonderful to hear about your yearly Goldsmith Beetle sightings, though we have not been able to locate your 2015 request in our archives. Because of your “catch and release” policy, we are tagging this posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award.
Wonderful! Thank you so much!!
Letter 4 – Goldsmith Beetle
May 28, 2016 3:19 am
I found this bug that I believe to be a goldsmith bug on my screen. It stayed there quite a while so I pulled it off. It appeared to be dead. When I was taking pictures of it, I thought I may have seen his legs move some. Do these bugs typically not move much or do you think this bug is dead or dying? Can you identify some of the parts? Does it bite or pinch at all?
Ps: coincidentally last nights jeopardy final was re Poe’s The Gold Bug.
How interesting that this sighting of a Goldsmith Beetle coincided with the Jeopardy final regarding Poe’s classic The Gold Bug which was allegedly based on a Goldsmith Beetle. It is difficult to speculate on the cause of your individual’s inactivity. Temperature may have been a factor. We suspect you found this Goldsmith Beetle on your screen because it was attracted to light. According to BugGuide: “Occasionally attracted to lights.” It is also possible that this individual was nearing the end of its life, hence its lethargy, and we would not rule out that its life may have ended because of exposure to toxins or poisons. Normally, Scarab Beetles are not as active as Ground Beetles, but the behavior you describe does not sound like the behavior we would expect from a healthy Goldsmith Beetle. It is possible that a person handling a Goldsmith Beetle may experience a slight pinch because of the spiny features on the legs.
Letter 5 – Bug of the Month June 2021: Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Goldsmith Beetle
Geographic location of the bug: Zimmerman, MN North America USA
Time: 01:00 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello, this is the second time I’ve encountered what I believe to be a goldsmith Beetle. Coolest bug ever. The first time was in the backyard a couple of years ago. The second time, was tonight, waiting for me at the front door. I brought it in to show my mother, she was not a fan. I put it back outside to carry on.
How you want your letter signed: S. Botzet
Dear S. Botzet,
Thanks so much for sending in your awesome images of a Goldsmith Beetle, the beetle allegedly the fictional Gold Bug of Edgar Allen Poe fame. Your timing is perfect for us to select your letter as the Bug of the Month for June 2021. The Goldsmith Beetle is described on BugGuide as “A large yellow/green scarab with no elytral markings. Elytra has irregular rows of punctures.”
Letter 6 – Goldsmith Beetle
Green Iridescent Goldsmith Beetle?
Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 10:14 AM
We were at a friend’s home in Sauk Rapids, Mn, and our daughters found this shimmering iridescent green beetle. Her daughters found this link, and thought it might be that. Only in a picture that doesn’t show it’s iridescence, did I think it might be a version of this one, but when we saw it in person, it didn’t look gold at all…just the “bejeweled” green! As if it was imbedded with crystals.
The girls names are Madison and Shaelynn Waseka-(Mom is Marla), and Kristina Anderson.
I happened to be there to take pictures of her home/property, so we got the bug too! 🙂
Photographer: Kathy Anderson
Property owner: Marla Waseka-Contact: Design Firm-Graceful Spaces
Later that day, she went to another friend’s house, who had just found a “Goldsmith Beetle” that day, and saved it since she found it dead. How ironic is that?
So it looks like this one is “family” to the Goldsmith-but is there another name for it, because of the green?
Kathy Anderson/Marla Waseka
Sauk Rapids, Mn
Hi Kathy and Marla,
We believe your ID of the Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera, is correct. According to BugGuide, the coloration of the Goldsmith Beetle is . Even more interesting, the greenest example posted to BugGuide was from St. Paul, Dakota County Minnesota. We actually think your individual is one of the loveliest examples of a Goldsmith Beetle we have seen.
Letter 7 – Goldsmith Beetle
October 9, 2009
This beauty was clinging to our screen door early one morning last June. I have been trying to identify, and Grapevine beetle seems a possibility (we have 17 acres of grapes), but there aren’t noticeable spots. What else could it be?
4 miles east of Lawrence, KS
Your guess that this is a Grapevine Beetle is well founded, though incorrect. This is a Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera, which is in the same tribe, Rutelini, as the Grapevine Beetle, Pelidnota punctata. You can see additional images and read more about the Goldsmith Beetle on BugGuide. Our favorite bit of trivia about the Goldsmith Beetle, is that it is believed to be the Gold Bug in the famous Edgar Allen Poe story.
Thanks so much for the info! We have lots of unusual (for this area) bugs, birds, and varmints visiting our farm, and I was having trouble trying to identify this beetle. It certainly was beautiful– the same morning I photographed this guy, I also got great shots of a pair of Io moths. Living in the country certainly has its perks!
Charlee Glinka Davenport Orchards/Vineyards/Winery
Letter 8 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Goldsmith Beetle
Location: Shoreview, MN
June 16, 2013 4:07 pm
My 6 year old daughter found this beetle on 6/16/13 in Shoreview, MN (a suburb north of St Paul, MN). Based on the pictures, it looks just like the Goldsmith Beetle.
Signature: Maggie Setley
This is a Goldsmith Beetle, described on BugGuide as being: “A large yellow/green scarab with no elytral markings. Elytra has irregular rows of punctures.” This is one of the insects that is suspected of being the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Gold Bug” which is one of his less macabre stories. We would highly suggest that you read it aloud to your daughter to cement the memory of the day she found the Gold Bug, a common name suggested on BugGuide.
Letter 9 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Beach Beetle
Location: Plum Island, Massachusetts
June 13, 2016 1:17 pm
We were on a class field trip to the beach and came across this golden guy. Any idea what he (or she) is?
Signature: Curious kids from AMS
Dear Curious kids from AMS,
Our response is delayed as we were away from the office when you submitted your request. This is a Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera, and it appears to have experienced some trauma. According to BugGuide: “Adults feed on foliage of oak, poplar, hickory, pear, maple, cottonwood, willow and sweetgum.” As you are in Massachusetts, you may be interested in knowing that this is allegedly the insect that inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story “The Gold Bug.”
Letter 10 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: North Dakotan Beetle
Location: Theodor Roosevelt National Park
June 26, 2016 8:36 am
A beetle stumbled upon my campsite in June. It was night and attracted to my lantern. I was located by Medora, in the badlands of North Dakota.
Just curious on what it may be. My thoughts are Grapevine Hoplia?
This beautiful beetle is a Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera.
Oh that is amazing! Thank you for the reply. Your awesome.
Letter 11 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Goldsmith Beetle
Location: Ogunquit, Maine
June 9, 2017 8:13 pm
Beautiful Goldsmith Beetle tonight, feel feee to post of you’d like!
Your request was sent on the first day of our much needed holiday, and we just returned to the office Tuesday, so we are embarking upon the impossible task of responding to requests that arrived in our absence and posting the most interesting submissions. Your Goldsmith Beetle image is gorgeous, and warrants featuring on our scrolling feature bar for a spell.
Awww, thanks! 🙂
Letter 12 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Goldsmith Beetle
Location: Western Nebraska I-80
June 24, 2017 9:49 am
We found this beetle in Nebraska and I knew it was something special.
Your image of this beautiful Goldsmith Beetle is a welcome addition to our archives.
Letter 13 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Goldsmith Beetle?
Geographic location of the bug: MS
Time: 07:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I took a picture of this beetle crawling around under the security light. Is this a goldsmith beetle? It was grey and furry underneath. I moved it away from the light source.
How you want your letter signed: TF
Letter 14 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Unknown Bug
Geographic location of the bug: Eastern Iowa
Time: 10:48 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I was wondering if you could help me identify this beetle? It flew while making a loud buzzing noise and appeared mostly white in color. Thank you!
How you want your letter signed: No preference
Though lighter in color than most individuals, we believe this is a Goldsmith Beetle. Here is a BugGuide image for comparison. We will be postdating your submission to go live to our site during the middle of June when our editorial staff is away from the office on holiday.
Letter 15 – Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: Goldsmith Beetle
Geographic location of the bug: Missaukee County, Michigan (town of Fife Lake)
Your letter to the bugman: Found deceased at my mom’s house. Super pearly Goldsmith Beetle! I hope you enjoy the photos. Ali Bridson
How you want your letter signed: Ali
Thanks for sending us your excellent images of a deceased Goldsmith Beetle you found at your mother’s house. The ventral view is not a common view in online documentation.
Letter 16 – Goldsmith Beetle: Edgar Allen Poe's Gold Bug!!!
We just found a beetle on our front porch in Flowood, MS that looks a good bit like the Cotalpa Consobrina in your entry of 6-9-04 from Diana Isham, Grantsburg Wisconsin. I’ve included a picture of ours–sorry for the blurriness. Are we correct?
In our opinion, you have the correct genus but the wrong species. Cotalpa consobrina is native to Arizona. The eastern species is the Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera. Literary historians are relatively certain this is the beetle imortalized in Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, The Gold Bug.
Letter 17 – Goldsmith Beetle found in Western Canada
Subject: GoldSmith beetle
Location: Central sask/Alberta
July 14, 2015 8:29 pm
My son B. Kolke sent me this photo he took today of a beetle, and he wondered what it was.
As I have had so much information and ID luck from this site, I came to look for it here. It was easy to find an ID but I thought that the bug itself was way out of it’s known range.
My son took this photo on the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan
Signature: T Kolke
Dear T Kolke,
We agree with both your identification and your assessment that this Goldsmith Beetle, Cotalpa lanigera, is out of its reported range, at least based on BugGuide sightings, though Goldsmith Beetles have been reported from Ontario, Canada as well as North Dakota. The Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles states: “Cotalpa occurs from Maine to the Carolinas west to Louisiana and Texas, south to Sonora, Mexico and north to Saskatchewan, Canada (Saylor 1940; Young 2002).” Nature Serve also lists a Saskatchewan sighting. So, while this sighting is unusual, it is not unique. Additionally, BugGuide states: “Usually listed as uncommon” so any sighting where ever it occurs is noteworthy.
Wow that was a speedy response! Thanks so much for that info! We were so amazed to see something like that never having seen one in our lives before. Cool and thanks for the links!
Letter 18 – Request for information on the Goldsmith Beetle
Subject: goldsmith beetle
Location: i dont know i got pic from google images
February 16, 2013 6:38 pm
dear bug man this is a goldsmith beetle and i don’t know anything about it but i want to can you tell me about it
Ed. Note February 17, 2013: The following email arrived less than 24 hours after the initial submission.
oh my god i sent 3 requests and you dont do anthing and it makes me sad because its my favorite web site
While we admire your enthusiasm, we cannot post images that were not taken by the person submitting the image, or at least without the permission of the photographer. Additionally, our tiny staff is unable to respond to every request we receive, and since we generally do most of our posting in the mornings, waiting 24 hours is not unusual. You keep submitting requests with images taken from the internet, which is why we have been unable to post your requests. You can use our search engine to research information on species we have already written about. Here is a link to a previous posting on our site of the Goldsmith Beetle. One of the three images of Goldsmith Beetles you attached is an image from our archives, though the file you grabbed from the internet is not the same file we posted, which indicates that either the original photographer posted it elsewhere, or internet pirates have pilfered it from us and renamed as well as resized the file. “Images of friends” is not the name we used for the included image.
ooohhh so i will take pictures instead how post’em though
Just submit the image using the form like you submitted this entry. We control all the postings to our site individually so we can choose and closely monitor the content on What’s That Bug?