Hickory Borer: All You Need to Know for a Pest-Free Garden

The Hickory Borer, scientifically known as Agrilus torquatus, is a type of beetle that infests and damages hickory trees. These beetles can be easily identified by their distinctive appearance, with females being elongate and shiny brownish-copper, while males are slimmer and boast a reddish-copper pronotum with iridescent black wings. They’re typically active during spring and summer, contributing to the decline of hickory trees.

Damage caused by Hickory Borers is often evident through visible signs on the infested trees. Some noticeable indicators include tiny, flat, disk-like eggs laid under the bark, holes in the bark, and reddish frass found in bark crevices or surrounding the base of the tree. To prevent further spread and destruction, it’s crucial for tree owners and enthusiasts to be aware of the Hickory Borer’s presence and take necessary action.

In comparison to other borer insects, such as the Old House Borer and the devastating Emerald Ash Borer, the Hickory Borer poses a specific threat to hickory trees. By understanding its characteristics and learning how to manage infestations, individuals can better protect their trees and surrounding environments from these pests.

Understanding Hickory Borers

Classification and Identification

Hickory Borers belong to the family Cerambycidae, which includes longhorn beetles. Among them are the Painted Hickory Borer (Megacyllene caryae) and the Locust Borer. These beetles fall under the kingdom Animalia, phylum Arthropoda, subphylum Hexapoda, class Insecta, order Coleoptera, suborder Polyphaga, and superfamily Chrysomeloidea1.

Identifying features of Hickory Borers include:

  • Elongated, cylindrical bodies
  • Long antennae
  • Colorful patterns (e.g., black and white for the Painted Hickory Borer)

Life Cycle and Biology

The life cycle of Hickory Borers involves four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult2. Female beetles lay their eggs in the bark of hickory trees. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae tunnel into the wood, feeding on it and creating galleries within the wood^[3^].

Key aspects of the life cycle include:

  • Eggs: laid under bark scales
  • Larvae: feed on tree wood, creating tunnels
  • Pupae: transform into adult beetles within the wood
  • Adults: emerge from the wood and start the cycle over

Hickory Borers, along with moths and other wood-borers, can cause damage to trees, weakening their structural integrity and affecting their overall health. It is essential to monitor and control these pests to protect valuable hickory trees and the ecosystem they belong to.

Comparison of Hickory Borer and Locust Borer:

Feature Hickory Borer Locust Borer
Habitat Mainly hickory trees Prefer black locust trees
Color Black and white Black and yellow
Host Impact Tunnels and feeds on wood Tunnels and feeds on wood

Signs of Infestation

Infested Trees and Damage

Hickory borers, also known as tree borers, commonly attack Carya species, such as hickory and pecan trees. These insects typically target trees that are weak, drought-stressed, diseased, dying, or recently transplanted1. Signs of infestation include:

  • Cracked or oozing bark
  • Dead limbs
  • Girdling or encircling wounds on the tree trunk

Infestations can result in tree death if left untreated. Grubs, the larvae of borers, tunnel through the tree’s sapwood and create extensive damage2. Their egg-laying sites can also facilitate the spread of diseases and fungal infections3.

Identifying Hickory Borer Frass and Sawdust

Frass and sawdust are telltale signs of a hickory borer infestation. Frass is the waste product produced by grubs as they tunnel through the tree, while sawdust is a byproduct of their feeding4. To differentiate between healthy and infested trees, look for:

  • Reddish frass accumulating in bark crevices or around the tree base5
  • Sawdust-like material near entry holes and the surrounding area

The presence of frass and sawdust, along with the associated tree damage, are strong indicators of a hickory borer infestation.

Healthy Tree Infested Tree
Intact, smooth bark Cracked or oozing bark
Green leaves and healthy limbs Dead limbs and wilted foliage
No obvious wounds or entry holes Girdling wounds, entry holes

Remember to monitor your trees for signs of hickory borer infestation and take prompt action to manage it, protecting your trees from further harm.

Prevention and Control

Cultural and Mechanical Methods

  • Pruning: Prune and remove dead or weakened branches to reduce borer attraction.

  • Watering: Maintain proper watering practices to keep trees healthy, as borers are more attracted to stressed trees.

  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree to conserve soil moisture and improve tree health.

  • Fertilizing: Use appropriate fertilization techniques in the spring to boost tree health and vigor.

  • Woodpecker presence: Encourage woodpeckers in the area, as they are natural predators of borers.

Chemical Control Options

  • Contact insecticides: Spray susceptible trees during the spring and early summer when adults are active for best results.

  • Systemic insecticides: Apply systemic insecticides to the soil around the tree if the infestation is severe.

Method Pros Cons
Cultural and Mechanical Methods Non-toxic, promotes overall tree health May not be sufficient against extensive infestations
Chemical Control Options Fast acting, effective against severe infestations May be toxic, can impact non-target organisms

Examples of borers include clearwing borers, flatheaded appletree borer, and metallic wood-boring beetles. These borers can infest a variety of trees such as lilac, oak, plums, and walnuts.

When it comes to choosing a method for prevention and control, consider the severity of the borer infestation, environmental impact, and the overall health of the affected tree. Integrating both cultural and mechanical methods with chemical control options can lead to a more effective management strategy against borers.

Footnotes

  1. (https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/shade-tree-borers.html) 2

  2. (https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/hickory-spiral-borer) 2

  3. (https://www.uky.edu/Ag/Entomology/treepestguide/hickory.html)

  4. Borer Insects on Trees

  5. Old House Borer

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 – Hickory Borers

 

Subject: Yellow jacket looking bug cover a standing dead tree
Location: Indiana
May 19, 2013 4:16 pm
Hey good afternoon! We had a tree die over the winter and today 5-19-13 my son was playing basketball and noticed these bugs all over the tree. Can these sting and are they harmful? Thanks from Indiana!
Signature: Trevis

Hickory Borer
Hickory Borer

Dear Trevis,
Given the spring sighting, these are Hickory Borers,
Megacyllene caryae, a species that spends its larval stage boring in the recently dead wood of hickory and other hardwood trees.  A closely related species, the Locust Borer, is active in the autumn months.  It is believed the Hickory and Locust Borers mimic stinging Yellow Jackets as a form of protective camouflage.  The beetles do not sting, however they have powerful jaws that might draw blood if a person is bitten.  They are not considered dangerous.

Great info! Thank you for the identification! Have a great week!
Trevis

Letter 2 – Hickory Borer

 

Locust or Hickory Borer beetle.
April 10, 2010
I took a photo of a beetle just yesterday. I posted it on a UK nature forum that I belong to, and someone very quickly replied back with an id – of a locust borer beetle. But after doing a search, I think it may be the hickory borer due to it being out now, rather than in September.
What are the differences
between the two, other than when they emerge.
Kathy
Yew Dell Gardens, Crestwood, Nr Louisville, Kentucky

Hickory Borer

Hi Kathy,
Your hunch that this is a Hickory Borer is most probably correct.  As BugGuide indicates, the two species are similar, but Hickory Borers are active in the spring and Locust Borers in the Autumn, but BugGuide does not indicate how to separate the two species visually and we haven’t the necessary skill to do that either.  Perhaps one of our readers can supply that information as a comment on this posting.

Letter 3 – Hickory Borer

 

New bug in back yard
Location: 35 miles south of Chicago
May 10, 2011 1:57 pm
I found this bug in my back yard,new to me , not sure what it is.Can you help identify.
Signature: Andywad

Hickory Borer

Dear Andywad,
This pretty Longhorned Borer Beetle is a Hickory Borer,
Megacyllene caryae, a species that is easily confused with the closely related Locust Borer.  The Hickory Borer is active in the spring while the Locust Borer is active in the fall when it can be found feeding on pollen on goldenrod.  You may read more about the Hickory Borer on BugGuide.

Letter 4 – Banded Hickory Borer

 

What is this bug?
Location: Southern Maryland
April 6, 2011 12:11 pm
I found this bug in my bedroom on my bedskirt. At first I thought it was some sort of cricket but it does not hop and when I tried capturing it, it made a weird noise. Also, when it is flipped on its back it has a very hard time flipping back over.
Can you please let me know what this bug is?
Thanks!
Signature: Mandy

Banded Hickory Borer

Hi Mandy,
We believe that your Longhorned Borer Beetle is a Banded Hickory Borer,
Knulliana cincta, based on BugGuide.

Letter 5 – Banded Hickory Borer

 

Subject: At a loss.
Location: Western kentucky/Owensboro area
May 24, 2012 10:27 am
Dear bugman,
Typically your site reveals the answer to my bug question but this time I am stuck. I have looked for three days on What’s that Bug and cannot find the mystery bug that keeps returning to my screen door. I thought it was a beetle because it seemed to have lightning bug qualities *note I am a novice but a good researcher*. Here is a picture. Picture 1.
Picture 2-I have also included the Luna Moth that was here on the same screen door a few weeks ago just for your pleasure.
Thanks and your website is so valuable best on the net!
Signature: Jenn N Kentucky

Banded Hickory Borer

Hi Jenn,
The end of the week was a bit rough for us, and we are trying to answer and post as many letters as possible, hence the tardiness of our reply.  This pretty beetle is one of the Longhorned Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae.  After a bit of searching, we identified it as the Banded Hickory Borer,
Knulliana cincta thanks to the BugGuide archive.

Letter 6 – Banded Hickory Borer

 

Subject: Bug at school
Location: Pearland, Tx
February 1, 2017 1:36 pm
Dear bug man,
We found this big outdoors by our school
Can you please let us know what the ? is please and thank you
Signature: Landon

Banded Hickory Borer

Dear Landon,
We are quite confident this is a Banded Hickory Borer
Knulliana cincta, which we identified using Arthur V. Evans book Beetles of Eastern North America.

Letter 7 – Banded Hickory Borer, possibly

 

Please identify a bug
Dear Bugman,
This enormous "creature" flew onto my front door a few days ago, and although I’ve cruised your site trying to find out just what it might be, the closest that I’ve come to finding out is that it is probably some type of wood boreing beetle. Nothing looking like this one on your site, although some are close. The most striking feature about it, was the enormous antenna. The actual bug was about 1-1/2" to 2" long, but the antenna were several times that. I live in central Florida, was born and raised here, but have never seen anything close to this bug. I guess it found a piece of wood to chew on, because it didn’t come around except just for the one night. Thanks,
Marie Nipper

Hi Marie,
We believe this is a Banded Hickory Borer, Knulliana cincta, based on an image we found on BugGuide, which is also consistant with your Florida location. Eric Eaton wrote in with this comment: ” Don’t think the longhorn from Florida is a Knulliana, but can’t really tell you why. You might want to find a cerambycid expert to help with those IDs. They can be tricky.”

Letter 8 – Hickory Borer

 

what is this?
Location: Webberville, MI
May 23, 2011 4:09 pm
black and yellow looking ricket/grasshopper
Signature: Ken

Hickory Borer

Dear Ken,
You didn’t provide us with terribly much information, and information is a great assistance with species identification.  Perhaps your internet provider or cellular telephone provider has a character limit on texting, or maybe you just didn’t have time.  Since it is spring, we believe this is a Hickory Borer,
Megacyllene caryae, a species that is very difficult to distinguish from its close relative the Locust Borer which appears in the fall and is often found on goldenrod feeding on pollen and nectar.  The majority of sightings of the Hickory Borer on BugGuide are from February through April and there are none in late May.  Perhaps this individual emerged from firewood you had in your home, and the interior temperatures affected its biological clock.  It is believed that both species, as well as numerous other Longhorned Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae, mimic wasps for protection since many wasps (including Yellow Jackets) are capable of stinging and beetles are not.

Letter 9 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject: Wasp/grasshopper?
Location: Mid-Michigan
May 20, 2014 6:17 pm
My brother recently spotted this and no one can identify it, are the grasshoppers trying to scare us now?
Signature: Derek

Locust Borer
Hickory Borer

Dear Derek,
This is neither a wasp nor a grasshopper, but it is a beetle known as a Hickory Borer,
Megacyllene caryae, that mimics wasps like the Yellowjacket for protection as the beetle is harmless and the Yellowjacket can sting.  The Hickory Borer, which emerges in the spring, looks very similar to its relative the Locust Borer, Megacyllene robiniae, which emerges in the fall. 

Letter 10 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject: bug
Location: oklahoma
April 8, 2015 3:19 pm
i found this today in my car. I also saw one similar to it at my friends house a few months ago…..but maybe not the exact same bug.
Signature: thank you in advance, andrea

Hickory Borer
Hickory Borer

Dear Andrea,
According to BugGuide, the Hickory Borer “larvae mine newly dead hickory, and sometimes other hardwoods.”  Adults are active in the spring.

Letter 11 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject: What’s this bug
Location: Washington DC
April 22, 2015 7:14 am
I have now trapped and relocated two of these near the front wall of our brick row house in washington dc. Both were found by one of our cats. What are they and are they dangerous to cats?
Thanks.
Signature: David McMillen

Hickory Borer
Hickory Borer

Dear David,
This is a Hickory Borer,
Megacyllene caryae, a Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae.  Larvae in this family are wood borers, and adults often have very strong mandibles that they need to chew to the surface when they emerge as adults.  They might provide a painful nip to your cat, but they are not considered dangerous and we feel quite certain the cat will not be harmed.  Do you have a hickory tree nearby?  According to BugGuide:  “larvae mine newly dead hickory, and sometimes other hardwoods.”

Thank you for the quick and informative response. No hickory trees nearby but maybe they wintered in our firewood. We keep a pile inside over the summer and brought in a few of weeks ago.

Emergence from firewood is quite common.

Letter 12 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject: Wasp or beetle?
Location: Eastern Nebraska
April 17, 2016 9:42 am
Can you identify this? They are on the south side of my house and I just noticed them yesterday when my niece stepped on one. Location eastern Nebraska.
Signature: Thanks, Stacy

Hickory Borer
Hickory Borer

Dear Stacy,
This is a beetle commonly called a Hickory Borer,
Megacyllene caryae.  Do you have any nearby hickory or other nut trees, or perhaps a wood pile near where they are appearing?  The larvae are wood borers and the adults emerge in the spring.  They are thought to mimic stinging wasps for protection and the Hickory Borers are harmless, though they do have strong mandibles and they might pinch someone who carelessly handles one of them.  See BugGuide for additional information.

Letter 13 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject: What the hell is this
Location: Cambridge oh
April 25, 2016 2:00 pm
what is it. Never seen one Before
Signature: don’t care

Hickory Borer
Hickory Borer

This is a Hickory Borer.

Letter 14 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject: Bug Identifier
Location: Richmond,KY
April 1, 2017 2:23 pm
Don’t think this is anything to worry about, but we’d like to know what it is.
Signature: John

Hickory Borer

Dear John,
Because of its April appearance, we know that this is a Hickory Borer,
Megacyllene caryae, because its similar looking, close relative the Locust Borer, Megacyllene robinae, is generally sighted during the autumn months.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae mine newly dead hickory, and sometimes other hardwoods.”  Both species are harmless to humans, though they have strong mandibles that might produce a painful pinch.  It is widely believed that both species benefit from mimicking stinging wasps.

Letter 15 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject: Gross bug
Location: Kutztown PA
April 27, 2017 1:25 pm
Can you help me identify this thing? It was crawling around the top of my garage door. It disappeared while I was looking to identify it.
Signature: Nora

HIckory Borer

OK Nora,
We are going to have to disagree with you.  This Hickory Borer is a beautiful beetle, and it is a product of natural selection and survival.  The Hickory Borer is harmless, though its strong mandibles might cause a pinch, but its bold markings mimic those of a stinging Yellowjacket for protection.  We suspect it emerged from a nearby wood pile or dead tree.

Hickory Borer

Letter 16 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject:  Beetle maybe?
Geographic location of the bug:  New Castle, PA
Date: 05/06/2018
Time: 08:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
My brother foundthis bug outside his house. I love Bugs and was interested because I’ve never seen this one before. After trying many different ID tools and researching as I normally do, I’m still drawing a blank. My children and I would love to know if this a beetle and if so, what kind?
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you! Monica C. Edmonds

Hickory Borer

Dear Monica,
Both this Hickory Borer,
Megacyllene caryae, which is active in the spring, and its look-alike relative the Locust Borer which is active in the fall are beetles that mimic stinging wasps, specifically Yellowjackets.  Our editorial staff is from Youngstown, Ohio, and when we return, a visit to New Castle is generally part of the itinerary.

OMGosh thank you! I’m going to tell my brother right now!
Sincerely,
Monica

Letter 17 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject:  is this a wasp mimic longhorn beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Madill, Oklahoma (central southern part of state)
Date: 02/04/2019
Time: 02:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  found this unusual beetle while working cows on our ranch this past weekend 2-3-2019. Was a warm (unusual 60’s degree F) winter day
How you want your letter signed:  chris w. bradshaw

Hickory Borer

Dear Chris,
This looks to us like a Hickory Borer.  Hickory Borers are active late in the winter and early in the spring.  Those appear to be oak leaves and acorns in your image.  Do you also have nut trees nearby?  According to BugGuide:  “larvae mine newly dead hickory, and sometimes other hardwoods.”  It is commonly accepted that the Hickory Borer, one of the Longhorned Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae, is a Yellowjacket mimic.

Thanks Daniel, and yes we have pecan grove not too far away. They were just planted 3 years ago so not very old yet. Again Thanks.
Chris

Update:  We wouldn’t rule out that this might be a Mesquite Borer, which is pictured on BugGuide, though BugGuide does not report the Mesquite Borer from Oklahoma. 

Letter 18 – Hickory Borer

 

Subject:  Is this a wood eating bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwest Michigan
Date: 03/30/2019
Time: 09:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Southwest Michigan
How you want your letter signed:  Tom

Hickory Borer

Dear Tom,
This is a Hickory Borer.  Adult Hickory Borers visit blossoms where they feed on pollen, but larvae are wood borers.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae mine newly dead hickory, and sometimes other hardwoods.” 

Letter 19 – Hickory Borer, we believe

 

Subject:  What is this!?
Geographic location of the bug:  Greensburg IN
Date: 04/02/2018
Time: 04:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This bug started appearing in my home a week ago, Im noticing more of them everyday. I have no idea what this is. It does have antennas as well.
How you want your letter signed:  Jen

Hickory Borer

Hi Jen,
Do you have a fireplace or a wood burning stove and a stack of firewood indoors?  Is the firewood hickory?  Our bet is that this adult Longhorned Borer Beetle in the genus
Megacyllene emerged from firewood you have stored indoors.  The Hickory Borer, which is pictured on BugGuide, is a species that emerges in the spring and the Locust Borer, a nearly identical looking member of the same genus emerges in the fall, is also pictured on BugGuide.  Either species will emerge in the spring from wood stored indoors, so the season is not definitive, but if the wood was black locust wood, then we would lean toward this being a Locust Borer.  This emergence might be an annoyance for you, but the beetles will not infest your home or furnishings.  They will infest newly cut trees and logs.

Yes, I do have a fireplace and just brought a new box full of wood in a little over a week ago. Thanks so much for the information. I was starting to think they we’re invading my home & was freaking out a little bit! It’s great to know that’s not going to happen! Thanks again

Letter 20 – Hickory Borer, we believe

 

A bug to identify (imagine that!)
Location: Cedar Hill, Texas (just outside of Dallas)
December 1, 2011 2:24 pm
Hello,
I came across your website and I’m hoping you can help identify this bug I found in my house today.
I’m sure I’ll butcher the terminology here, but what you can’t see from the picture is that the bug has a good set of protruded or external mandibles.
Also, it was traveling with another of its kind that I have yet to catch.
Thanks for your help!
Signature: Samuel Thomas

Hickory Borer

Hi Samuel,
This is one of two species of Borer Beetles in the genus
Megacyllene, and we suspect it might have entered your house in firewood and then emerged in the warmth of the home.  Larvae of the Beetles spend their entire larval stage boring in wood, eventually pupating and then emerging as adults when conditions are right.  We suspect this is a Hickory Borer, Megacyllene caryae, and not its look-alike relative the Locust Borer, Megacyllene robiniae.  Locust Borers generally emerge in the fall while Hickory Borers emerge in the spring.  Here is a photo of a Hickory Borer from BugGuide.  The adult beetles will not harm your home, its furnishing nor its inhabitants.

Letter 21 – Hickory Borer or White Oak Borer

 

Subject: Some kind of longhorn beetle?
Location: Stafford Virginia
June 7, 2014 6:38 am
I found this in our backyard in Stafford Va. What type of longhorn beetle is this?
Signature: Seth

Borer:  Goes species
Borer: Goes species

Hi Seth,
This is a Borer Beetle in the genus
Goes, and we have narrowed it to two possibilities:  a Hickory Borer, Goes pulcher, or the White Oak Borer, Goes tigrinus.  See BugGuide for more information.  According to BugGuide, the Living-Hickory Borer is:  ” Uncommon” and “Larvae feed in living Carya (including C. illinoinensis). Ulmus and Quercus are potential hosts.”  Of the White Oak Borer, BugGuide states:  “Larvae feed in living hardwoods, especially oak, Quercus” and “Very uncommonly collected although widespead and reportedly an important pest of all oaks in the white oak group.”

Letter 22 – Hickory Borers in Home

 

Subject: Flying insect in house. Oklahoma
Location: Oklahoma
March 22, 2015 10:03 am
Have killed about 20 of these in last 2 weeks but don’t know what they are. Please help
Signature: Stacie

Hickory Borer
Hickory Borer

Dear Stacie,
This appears to be a Hickory Borer,
Megacyllene caryae, and you can compare your individual to this image on BugGuide.  Do you have firewood in the house?  Is the wood Hickory?  According to Bugguide:  “larvae mine newly dead hickory, and sometimes other hardwoods.”  Whenever there is a case of numbers of Longhorned Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae that are emerging in a home, it is almost always related to firewood.

Sounds good.  Thanks for the info Daniel.

Letter 23 – Hickory Borers Mating

 

Should we be worried about these?
This is the first time we’ve seen these . They appeared on the pile of firewood and appear to be mating.

The unprovided information on your query is significant? Where are you? Was the firewood inside or outside? What kind of wood was it? All these details would have helped. We believe, because of the time of year, that these are Hickory Borers, Megacyllene caryae. They emerge in the spring, but if the firewood was stored indoors, the natural life cycle might have been altered. The larvae have been boring into the wood, and the adults have just emerged, eager to mate. If you have hickory trees, the fertile females may lay eggs. If beetle grubs are very numerous, they can compromise the health of the tree. A very similar looking related species is the Locust Borer, but it emerges in the fall. The Locust Borers are often found feeding on the pollen of goldenrod.

Letter 24 – Living Hickory Borer

 

Subject:  Beatle
Geographic location of the bug:  New Jersey
Date: 06/23/2019
Time: 10:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Looks like a boring Beatle.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks

Living Hickory Borer

You are correct.  We identified your beetle as the Living Hickory Borer, Goes pulcher, thanks to Beetles of Eastern North America by Arthur V. Evans, and then we found this matching image on BugGuide.  BugGuide notes that the name “Hickory Borer — not recommended, due to potential confusion with Hickory Borer (Megacyllene caryae).”

Letter 25 – Male Banded Hickory Borer

 

a strange bug
This stranger appeared in my home in Toledo, Ohio on February 21, 2006. The outside temperature was in the mid 20’s so I am doubtful if it came in from outside. On that same day(approximately 45 miutes earlier) my wife returned from the grocery store with Grapes from Costa Rica and green beans from who knows where. The bug caught my eye as it flew across the kitchen. It was an awsome sight and I don’t mind admitting it scared the hell out of me. Thank God my wife was not in the room when the thing appeared. I was able to capture it and confine it to a freezer bag with air holes poked into it. One antenna was broken and one leg was seperated from the body during the capture. Can you identify this bug and let me know what it is. Thank you very much.
Tom Simpson in Toledo.

Hi Tom,
We originally thought this might be one of the Monochamus Sawyers, and that Possibly it emerged from firewood. Eric Eaton wrote in informing us that it “is actually a male banded hickory borer, Knulliana cincta.”

Letter 26 – Mating Hickory Borers

 

Worlds largest yellow jackets?
April 15, 2010
These insects are swarming my woodpile. You really cannot see their wings but they can fly. Some are nearly an inch long and others are small like a honey bee. They also seem to be mating. Note the long antennas.
your call
northern indiana

Hickory Borers Mating

Dear your call,
These are not Yellow Jackets, but rather, Yellow Jacket mimics.  They are beetles known as Hickory Borers.  The immature grubs live in wood, and these adults have emerged from the wood pile and now they are mating.

Letter 27 – Mating Hickory Borers

 

Subject: 50 of the came out of nowhere
Location: Delaware Ohio 43015
April 19, 2017 6:40 pm
We have lived here for 17 years and have never witnessed this before. One late afternoon mid April in Central Ohio our detached garage started to buzz. There were at least 50 of these mating. What are they and are they dangerous. We have small children and pets. Very concerned. Thank you,
Signature: Thank you Ryan Boyer

Mating Hickory Borers

Dear Ryan,
Was there a pile of firewood in or near your garage?  Because of their spring appearance, we know these are Hickory Borers and not the very similar looking and closely related Locust Borers that usually appear in the fall when the goldenrod is blooming.  Neither species is dangerous, but both mimic stinging YellowJackets for protection.  While not dangerous, Hickory Borers have strong mandibles that might deliver a painful nip if carelessly handled.  Larvae of Hickory Borers are wood borers, and according to BugGuide:  “larvae mine newly dead hickory, and sometimes other hardwoods.”

Letter 28 – Painted Hickory Borer

 

What is this bug
Hello
I just moved into a new home and there are a few trees that need cut down. I am currently cutting down some Shagbark Hickory trees and this bug is all over the trees. We live in Western Pennsylvania. Could you please tell me what it is and if it is harmful? Please see the attached pictures.
Thank you,
Neal

Hi Neal,
Judging by the mating activity evident in your photo, you might soon have a new generation of Painted Hickory Borers, Megacyllene caryae. They attack hickory, black walnut, butternut, osage orange and mulberry. The female lays eggs after cutting deep pits in the bark. Larva bore inward and pupate under bark. Adults emerge in the spring.

Letter 29 – Painted Hickory Borer

 

Whats this bug??
I need help identifying the attached bug. Please review the photos and advise if you have any idea what this is!!! I have attached a photo of the top and bottom of the bug.
Thank you!
Janet Cox
Clarksburg, West Virginia

Hi Janet,
Your beetle is one of the Long Horned Borer Beetles from the genus Megacyllene. Your beetle looks like the Painted Hickory Borer, Megacyllene caryae which closely resembles the Locust Borer, Megacyllene robiniae. The telltale markings of the Painted Hickory Borer include the third stripe on the elytra which is W-shaped followed by three additional sinuous stripes. This species is usually found in the spring, while the Locust Borer is found in the fall. Larva feed on the wood of hickory, ash, hackberry and Osage orange trees.

Letter 30 – Painted Hickory Borer

 

Identify please
I have these things crawling all over the back of my home and a few are making it inside. They fly, too. What are they? What do I do to get rid of them? Call an exterminator or spray something? Hurry, please. Thanks.
Kay

Hi Kay,
Your Painted Hickory Borer, Megacyllene caryae, looks nearly identical to the Locust Borer. Hickory Borers fly in the spring, and Locust Borers in the fall.

Letter 31 – Painted Hickory Borer

 

Is this a beetle ??
Have found at least 8 of these near front window in living room. 85 year old house in Louisville, KY My son thinks they’re hornets … yellow jackets but I don’t think so. Thanks for your help !!!
Carolyn

Hi Carolyn,
You are correct. This is one of the Long Horned Borer Beetles, more specifically the Painted Hickory Borer, Megacyllene caryae. It is almost indistinguishable from the Locust Borer, Megacyllene robiniae. The Painted Hickory Borer flies in the spring, and the Locust Borer in the fall when the goldenrod blooms.

Letter 32 – Painted Hickory Borer

 

What’s this bug?
This little guy flies. We live in Chapel Hill, NC. Great site! thanks,
Keith Sanders

Hi Keith,
There are two closely related species of Long Horned Borer Beetles that look nearly identical. The Painted Hickory Borer, Megacyllene caryae, appears in the spring and the Locust Borer, Megacyllene robiniae, appears in the fall. This could be a late Locust Borer, but our money is on an early Painted Hickory Borer.

Letter 33 – Painted Hickory Borer

 

beetle id
My son found this beautiful specimen in the yard. I can’t seem to find an ID anywhere on the web. I think it is a type of borer but not sure which. Please identify, I’m sure it’s a realitively common species. Thanks,
Chris B.

Hi Chris,
There are two species of Wood Boring Beetles in the genus Megacyllene that look nearly identical. The Locust Borer, Megacyllene robiniae, appears in the fall and is often found feeding on pollen and nectar on goldenrod. The Painted Hickory Borer, Megacyllene caryae, appears in the spring. Based on that information, we are relatively certain that this is a Painted Hickory Borer, but the affects of global warming are affecting the life cycles of many plants and animals. Insect emergence patterns as well as their ranges are changing due to these climactic changes.

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.

10 thoughts on “Hickory Borer: All You Need to Know for a Pest-Free Garden”

  1. I found one of these banging its head into a window at home. I live in Peoria Il., is that weird? And is it supposed to buzz at you?
    And it shouldn’t be this hard to post a comment. It really shouldn’t.

    Reply
    • Hickory Borers are generally sighted in the spring and a similar looking species, the Locust Borer, is generally present in the fall when goldenrod is in bloom. A sighting in July, especially of numerous specimens, seems like it would be unusual.

      Reply
  2. I have hickory borors mating all over my twisted baby locust tree, I have never seem them here before and I am all about organic treatments and gardening. Not sure what to do? here in Colorado that is!

    Reply
  3. Hi, I was always curious what would be the name of that insect. The only time I saw this bug was in an old piece of wood that I found in a deposit. It was dead but what it caught my attention was its long antennas. I was a kid, so I thought it was a rare roach. This happened when I was living in Lima, Peru.

    Reply
  4. I don’t have an answer for killing them in the woodpile other than burning them in your wood stove, but here is how we have avoided having them running around in our house. We are only bringing in enough wood to last one week and so far have not had any adults emerge in the house. I did put one small log that had lots of large oval holes in a small sealed container with a clear top in our house on 1-22-2018. Our first adult emerged today 2-7-2018. So one week seems to be a good number as long as it’s still good and cold outside.

    Reply

Leave a Comment