Ivory Marked Beetle: Your Quick Guide to Understanding This Fascinating Insect

The Ivory Marked Beetle is a fascinating insect, often recognized for its striking appearance. Belonging to the longhorned beetle family, these beetles have a brown to golden brown color with four pairs of ivory spots on their wings, each surrounded by a darker brown halo. Known by their scientific name, Eburia quadrigeminata, they can be found deep within the heartwood of various deciduous trees, such as oak, hickory, maple, cherry, ash, and elm source.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Ivory Marked Beetle is its remarkably long lifespan. In some cases, adult beetles have been reported to emerge from finished furniture and flooring after up to 40 years source.

Ivory Marked Beetle Overview

Species and Family

The Ivory-marked Beetle, scientifically known as Eburia quadrigeminata, belongs to the family Cerambycidae within the order Coleoptera in the class Insecta. Cerambycidae, also known as longhorned beetles, is a diverse family with over 20,000 species worldwide.

Physical Characteristics

The Ivory-marked Beetle is a brown beetle with unique ivory spots, known for its distinctive appearance. Some key physical features include:

  • Length: Approximately 1/2 inch long
  • Color: Brown to golden brown
  • Ivory spots: Four pairs, each surrounded by a darker brown halo
  • Thorax: Small spine on each side

As a comparison to other beetles:

Feature Ivory-marked Beetle Other Beetles
Order Coleoptera Coleoptera
Family Cerambycidae Various
Length Approximately 1/2 inch Varies
Unique physical feature Ivory spots Dependent on species

These beetles have a notably long lifespan, with adult specimens emerging from finished furniture and flooring even after 40 years. They bore deep into the heartwood of various deciduous trees, such as oak, hickory, maple, cherry, ash, and elm.

Habitat and Distribution

Geographical Range

The Ivory-marked Beetle (Eburia quadrigeminata) can be found in various regions across the United States, with a notable presence in places like Missouri and Austin, TX. Their geographical range spans across the eastern and southern parts of the country.

Types of Trees Hosted

Ivory-marked Beetle larvae bore deep into the heartwood of various deciduous trees. Some common tree species they inhabit include:

  • Ash
  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Locust
  • Cypress
  • Cherry
  • Elm

Among these tree types, oaks are considered a particularly popular host for the Ivory-marked Beetle.

Here is a comparison table highlighting some tree preferences:

Tree Species Beetle Preference
Oak Highly Preferred
Elm Moderately Preferred
Cherry Moderately Preferred
Ash Less Preferred
Maple Less Preferred

These beetles are known to have a remarkably long lifespan, with adults emerging from finished furniture and flooring after 40 years. This indicates that these beetles can reside and persist in various types of trees for extended periods.

Life Cycle and Development

Eggs

Ivory-marked beetles (Eburia quadrigeminata) lay their eggs within various deciduous trees, such as oak, hickory, maple, cherry, ash, and elm 1. The eggs are left undisturbed until they hatch. Hatching generally occurs within 7 to 10 days2.

Larvae

When the eggs hatch, the beetle larvae begin to bore deep into the tree’s heartwood3. Some features of the larvae include:

  • Boring behavior as they consume the wood
  • Responsible for weakening trees and damaging lumber

During this larval stage, the host tree can experience structural damage caused by the beetle larvae burrowing within the heartwood.

Adults

Adult ivory-marked beetles are approximately 1/2 inch in length1. They have brown to golden brown wings, with four pairs of ivory spots surrounded by darker brown halos1. Each adult beetle emerges when the larvae metamorphose into adult insects.

Ivory-Marked Beetle Other Longhorned Beetles
Color Brown with ivory spots Varies
Length ~1/2 inch Depends on the species
Typical host trees Oak, hickory, maple, etc Varies
Damage to host tree Heartwood damage Varies
Time spent as larvae Varies Varies

The life span of adult ivory-marked beetles is quite remarkable, with certain individuals known to emerge from finished furniture and flooring after 40 years3. This significantly long life span is unusual for many beetle species and should be taken into account when dealing with these insects.

Behavior and Interactions

Feeding Habits

The Ivory-marked beetle’s larvae primarily feed on the heartwood of various deciduous trees, such as oak, hickory, maple, cherry, ash, and elm. The beetle is considered an arthropod, like many animals with jointed legs, such as millipedes, centipedes, and spiders.

Mating and Reproduction

These beetles mate and reproduce, with the females typically laying their eggs inside the trees they find suitable for the larvae. The larvae bore deep into the heartwood of trees, where they live and feed until they metamorphose into adults.

Examples of affected organisms:

  • Earthworms
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Crayfish
  • Shrimp

Attraction to Light Sources

Like many arthropods and insects, Ivory-marked beetles are attracted to light sources. This often leads them to gather around artificial lights, such as streetlights or porch lights, which can be an opportunity for females to find mates.

Interactions:

  • Ivory-marked beetles affect more than 10 million species of animals without backbones, including earthworms, slugs, snails, and other arthropods.
  • Alive animals, such as crayfish and shrimp, can also be indirectly affected by the presence of the beetle, as they can influence the health of the surrounding ecosystem.
  • Females are likely to gather around lights to reproduce.

Comparison of Feeding Habits:

Organism Feeding Preference
Ivory-marked Beetle Heartwood of Deciduous Trees
Earthworms Organic Matter in Soil
Slugs & Snails Various Plants and Organic Matter
Crayfish Plant and Animal Matter
Shrimp Plant and Animal Matter

I hope you find this information helpful and engaging!

Importance and Impact on Human Activities

Damage to Timber and Lumber Industry

The Ivory-Marked Beetle (Eburia quadrigeminata) is a longhorned beetle that causes damage to hardwood. Its larvae bore deep into the heartwood of various deciduous trees, including oak, hickory, maple, cherry, ash, elm, and more1. This aspect affects both the timber and lumber industry, as it can lead to weakened trees or compromised wood in finished products, such as flooring and furniture. The adult beetles have been known to emerge from finished furniture and flooring after 40 years2, highlighting their potential to reduce product quality.

Prevention and Control Measures

To minimize the impact of these wood-boring insects, prevention and control measures can be taken. For example:

  • Inspect hardwood materials for signs of insects, such as antennae, elytra with ivory spots, or cracks caused by larvae3.
  • Remove dead or dying trees from the area, as these attract Ivory-Marked Beetles to lay their eggs.
  • Use chemical treatments to protect wood from infestations.

When it comes to prevention and control measures, here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Reduced property damage
  • Improved safety in wooden structures
  • Protection of hardwood resources

Cons:

  • Potential harm to non-target species
  • Environmental concerns related to chemical usage
  • Regular monitoring and maintenance required

Considering these factors, it is crucial to understand the importance and impact of Ivory-Marked Beetles on human activities, including the timber and lumber industry. With appropriate prevention and control measures in place, damage caused by these bugs can be minimized.

Resources for Further Information

The Ivory Marked Beetle, scientifically known as Eburia quadrigeminata, is a fascinating species of longhorned beetle. To learn more about this unique insect, here is a list of resources:

Some key features of the Ivory Marked Beetle include:

  • Distinctive ivory spots on wings
  • Small spine on each side of the thorax
  • Preference for dead hardwood trees
  • Long lifespan

In-depth information and visuals can be found on:

  • BugGuide with identification tips and informative images.
  • Wikipedia for general information about the beetle and its classification within the animal kingdom.

Explore more data on this beetle using:

Additionally, here’s a comparison table highlighting some of the significant aspects of the Ivory Marked Beetle:

Feature Ivory Marked Beetle
Size Approximately 1/2 inch length
Color Brown to golden brown
Habitat Dead trees
Preferred Trees Oak, hickory, maple, cherry, ash, elm
Development Larvae bore deep into tree heartwood
Unique Physical Feature Ivory spots on wings, thorax spines

These resources ensure a thorough understanding of the Ivory Marked Beetle and its fascinating characteristics.

Footnotes

  1. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/ivory-marked-borer 2 3 4

  2. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/life-cycle 2

  3. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/ivory-marked-beetle 2 3

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 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Subject: suspicious bug
Location: western pennsylvania
August 10, 2016 8:14 pm
The other day i was in this shower and this guy decided to join me. He was about 2 inches big. And when i tried to move him out of the window he squealed at me, literally. I was only wandering if you could tell me what he is? Is he harmful?
Signature: Tristyn Gravatt

Ivory Marked Beetle
Ivory Marked Beetle

Dear Tristyn,
This is an Ivory Marked Beetle, a member of the wood boring beetle family Cerambycidae.  They do have powerful mandibles that could nip at you, but they have no venom or poison, so they are no threat to humans.  According to BugGuide:  “hosts include a wide variety of hardwoods (oak, ash, hickory, locust, chestnut, maple, elm, beech, cherry); larvae bore in heartwood”
but we believe they are never plentiful enough to be a threat to healthy trees.

Letter 2 – Beetle Bites Back after Ivory Marked Beetle put in a Plastic Bag.

 

So I just got home and I found one  .  Of these Ivory Marked Beetles on my back door outside. I didn’t know what it was, so I got a sandwich bag and put it in and it bit me through the bag.
Kiko

Round Headed Apple Borer in a Plastic Bag!!!
Round Headed Apple Borer in a Plastic Bag!!!

Dear Kiko,
We are attaching two images to your comment for posting purposes, an image of a Round Headed Apple Borer as well as an image of an Ivory Marked Beetle,  both members of the same family, the Longhorned Borer Beetle family Cerambycidae.  If we were put in a plastic bag, we would bite to get out as well.  Longhorned Borer Beetles have to chew their way out of wood, where they have been feeding as larvae often for many years, after they metamorphose into adults.

Ivory Marked Beetle in a Plastic Bag!!!
Ivory Marked Beetle in a Plastic Bag!!!

Letter 3 – Bug of the Month August 2016: Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Subject: borer ?
Location: Fredericksburg Va
July 30, 2016 7:29 pm
………….rainy times after hot dry spell
It was inside the house under a table lamp
A cloudy morning
Alive and still
One inch
Fredericksburg , Virginia
If it’s a borer of a tree of some sort…..we have MANY trees and many types>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
July 30th
If it”s a borer…it would be good to know its habitat!
Signature: susan warner

Ivory Marked Beetle
Ivory Marked Beetle

Dear Susan,
This is an Ivory Marked Beetle,
Eburia quadrigeminata, and according to BugGuide:  “hosts include a wide variety of hardwoods (oak, ash, hickory, locust, chestnut, maple, elm, beech, cherry); larvae bore in heartwood.”  According to MoBugs:  “Deciduous woodlands and the nearby area is their favored habitat, but they will often come to lights at night. Females deposit eggs on hardwood trees, usually in the cracks of bark. (Let me clarify here, they will only feed on dead or decaying trees, they will not harm healthy living trees…Thanks Ted for pointing out my oversight).When the larvae hatches it will eat its way into the heartwood of the tree. They feed on the wood pulp. Adults will readily come to fermented molasses bait. In large numbers these beetles could become serious pests to trees, and can cause significant damage. Because of their boring habit, and their capability of reaching the center of even the largest of trees it is not uncommon for these beetles to emerge as much as 10 to 40 years later in wood that was used to make furniture or hardwood flooring.”  We suspect this individual was probably attracted to light or had some other accidental reason for appearing in your home, but we would not rule out the possibility that it might have emerged from some finished wood product or firewood stored indoors.  Since today is the last day of July, and it is time for us to select a new Bug of the Month, we will be featuring your submission.

Letter 4 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Beautiful Beetle
Here’s a clear photo of an unidentified beetle who landed on my laser printer. Any ideas?
-m@

Hi -m@
This is an Ivory Marked Beetle, Eburia quadrigeminata and the larvae bore in the wood of many hardwood trees including ash and hickory. Adults sometimes emerge years after milling. Adults are attracted to rotting fruit.

Correction: (10/13/2005) Saperda cretata or Eburia quadrigeminata ??
Dear Bugman, I have spent several hours cruising your website and find it all very fascinating ! I did find one misidentification, or perhaps I am wrong. Attached is a photo of a Cerambycid beetle that is common here in Georgia (I am an avid collector of beetles). I have come to know this beetle as being the “Ivory Marked Beetle” or Eburia quadrigeminata. I have seen this beetle posted twice on this website and it was identified as the Spotted Apple Borer (Saperda cretata). You say these beetles are active during the day. I know from my experience that they are found at night actively crawling on sick/dying hardwood trees. I have never seen nor collected one during the day. Is it S. cretata or is it E. quadrigeminata ???
George

Thanks George. One of our reliable sources steered us awry on this one. The correction is much appreciated.

Letter 5 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

brown, antlered beetle with orange “eyes”
Location:  Duncanville, TX
July 20, 2010 6:52 am
Hello,
My wife found this beetle in our bedroom. It flies, but seldom. I captured it in an open trash can and set it outside, and it didn’t fly away for a long time. This occurred in July.
Thanks for your service.
Lars

Ivory Marked Beetle

Hi Lars,
YOur beetle is an Ivory Marked Beetle or Four Marked Ash Borer,
Eburia quadrigeminata, and you may read more about it on BugGuide.

Letter 6 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Confirmation of Lesser Ivory Marked Beetle in OK?
Location:  Seminole, Oklahoma
August 13, 2010 6:27 pm
Hi again! This little longhorn beetle flew in to visit me as I returned home this morning. I knew it was a longhorn beetle, so I sat and stared at tons of pics at Bug Guide. Am I right? Thanks again!
Amy Goodman

Ivory Marked Beetle

Hi Amy,
We agree with the genus but not the species.  We believe this is an Ivory Marked Beetle,
Eburia quadrigeminata (See BugGuide), not the closely related Lesser Ivory Marked Beetle, Eburia mutica (See BugGuide), which has less distinct markings.

Letter 7 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Bug I have never seen before
Location: Central Illinois
July 8, 2011 9:47 pm
Found this interesting fellow on my car door after work…it was night and it is summertime here. It is about 1.5 inches long…not a small bug. It flew into my car before I could study it any longer, luckily I got a nice pic. Thanks for taking your time to check out this bug.
Signature: Bre

Ivory Marked Beetle

Hi Bre,
This Longhorned Borer Beetle is an Ivory Marked Beetle,
Eburia quadrigeminata, and it is also called a Four-Marked Ash Borer according to BugGuide BugGuide also notes:  “hosts include a wide variety of hardwoods (oak, ash, hickory, locust, chestnut, maple, elm, beech, cherry); larvae bore in heartwood” and the remarkable “Notorious for emerging from furniture after as many as 10-40 yrs.”  You do not need to worry about the beetles boring into finished wood, however, if larvae are present when wood is milled, the metamorphosis period is affected lengthening the time the beetle remains in the larval and or pupal stages.

Letter 8 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Subject: bug
Location: delaware ohio
December 26, 2013 8:00 pm
Please tell me what this is
Signature: aysia

Ivory Marked Beetle
Ivory Marked Beetle

Dear aysia,
This is an Ivory Marked Beetle,
Eburia quadrigeminata, and late December is a very unusual time for a sighting.  Perhaps we should include additional questions on our submission form, including “When did the sighting occur?” and “Why do you want to know?” because that kind of information will help us formulate a response.  We try to make things as easy as possible for folks who are writing to us, but that doesn’t help us when we are trying to craft a response that satisfies the real reason a person wants to know: What’s That Bug?, especially with folks of few words.  Because it appears to be nestled in a paper towel, we suspect you found this Ivory Marked Beetle in your home and you want to make sure it isn’t going to do any damage, but you never clarified any of that.  The larvae of the Ivory Marked Beetle are borers that will feed on a “wide variety of hardwoods (oak, ash, hickory, locust, chestnut, maple, elm, beech, cherry); larvae bore in heartwood” according to BugGuide.  We speculate this individual might have emerged early from some firewood you brought into the house and didn’t burn immediately, or this individual might have emerged from milled lumber because BugGuide also notes it is:  “Notorious for emerging from furniture after as many as 10-40 yrs.”  You do not need to worry about Ivory Marked Beetles infesting the wooden furniture or structural wood of your home.

Letter 9 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Subject: What’s this big in my kitchen?
Location: Kentucky
August 4, 2014 7:44 pm
Found this big in the kitchen, kind of pretty and quite large, but I wasn’t sure what it is.
Signature: Miri

Ivory Marked Beetle
Ivory Marked Beetle

Dear Miri,
We suspect this Ivory Marked Beetle was attracted to the light in your kitchen.

Letter 10 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Subject: Bug Identification
Location: Southwest Virginia
July 27, 2016 5:38 am
I found this bug in my house on a windowsill. I have never seen it before.
Signature: Terry Volant

Ivory Marked Beetle
Ivory Marked Beetle

Dear Terry,
This is an Ivory Marked Beetle.  According to BugGuide:  “hosts include a wide variety of hardwoods (oak, ash, hickory, locust, chestnut, maple, elm, beech, cherry); larvae bore in heartwood” and “Notorious for emerging from furniture after as many as 10-40 yrs.”  You just need to determine if this individual happened to wander in from the outside or if it emerged from a piece of furniture you have in your home.  We tend to lean toward the former.

Letter 11 – Ivory Marked Beetle

 

Subject: What’s this?
Location: Hyde park ny usa
August 11, 2017 6:28 am
Found this on my stove this am
Signature: Howard

Ivory Marked Beetle

Dear Howard,
This is an Ivory Marked Beetle.  According to BugGuide:  “hosts include a wide variety of hardwoods (oak, ash, hickory, locust, chestnut, maple, elm, beech, cherry); larvae bore in heartwood ” and “Notorious for emerging from furniture after as many as 10-40 yrs.”  We suspect this individual found its way indoors because BugGuide also states:  “Attracted to lights.”

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.

13 thoughts on “Ivory Marked Beetle: Your Quick Guide to Understanding This Fascinating Insect”

  1. Saw 2 Sat night on my screen porch, had no idea what they were. Killed them but they came back to life last night. Used a fly swat Sat night. Stepped on them last night but they are not there this morning

    Reply
  2. I found one on a cut open lime (left out accidentally overnight) on my kitchen counter. I rolled it into the garbage disposal with the water running. I used tongs to pull out the lime then turned on the disposal. Hope it doesn’t come back to life like MM above!

    Reply
  3. Found a huge one on my kitchen wall last night. Freaked out and put the description in google. South western, Indiana is my location

    Reply
  4. I found one in my room and poked it with a remote control. It made a weird sound (that I can’t describe)and I then put it inside a water bottle. I found one bigger bug then the one before and instead of killing it my mom set it LOOSE. I’m scared that more will come back and (as I learned through comments and websites) bite or mess my wood iteams up. AND THEY FLY! Please someone give me advice on what to do.
    Please….

    Reply
  5. I just found one in Loveland, Ohio. Do we need to have our trees treated? Or worry about them getting in our home? We have a lot of wood work. Trim work, wood floors.
    Thank you

    Reply
  6. Just came in from Golf. Found one of these guys on the floor next to my couch. I actually found him by accident stepping on him.i didnt crush him but at first thought in the “Roach” family. My question is are there usually more to look for. Never saw one but there are what seems to be a bunch of “New” species of bugs coming around.(Jersey Shore)
    “Should I worry about more?”

    Reply
  7. Geez, why so quick to kill? Fascinating that they can live so long & emerge years later–until they meet up with some of you folks!

    Reply
  8. I found one.He was fast.I’d never seen one before,so I squished it.Thanks for your info.If I see another one,I’ll escort it outdoors.I don’t mind bug bites as long as they aren’t poisonous.Thanks for supplying an informative web site.
    I hope it get re-incarnated as a Monarch butterfly. 🙂

    Reply
  9. I begged my husband to come save me. It was directly above my bed on the wall, in the corner of the ceiling and wall. He got it and threw him in the trash. I wasn’t taking any chances and sprayed the trashcan with raid!

    Reply

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