Jewel Beetle: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

Jewel beetles, also known as metallic wood-boring beetles, are a diverse group of insects prized for their iridescent and metallic colors. These stunning creatures can be found in various habitats across the world, from forests to deserts, and contribute to the pollination of plants and the recycling of nutrients through their wood-boring larval stage. There are over 15,000 known species of jewel beetles, making them the largest family in the insect order Coleoptera.

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These beetles exhibit fascinating characteristics that set them apart from other insects. Their unique colors are the result of microscopic structures within their exoskeleton, which refract and reflect light to produce brilliant metallic hues. Jewel beetles can also make use of their wing covers, or elytra, to produce sounds as a form of communication, often tapping them together or against another surface.

While many species of jewel beetles are harmless to plants, several are considered pests. For example, the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an invasive species native to Asia that has caused significant damage to ash tree populations in North America. On the other hand, some species are regarded as beneficial due to their role as pollinators, highlighting the importance of understanding and managing these diverse and fascinating insects.

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Overview of Jewel Beetles

Buprestidae Family

Jewel beetles, also known as metallic wood-boring beetles, belong to the Buprestidae family. This family consists of about 15,000 species, making it one of the largest beetle families. They are known for their striking appearance and ability to infest various types of trees.

Distinctive Metallic Sheen

What sets jewel beetles apart is their distinctive metallic sheen, which can range from bright green to gold, and even iridescent blue or purple. This shimmering effect is due to microscopic structures within their exoskeleton that reflect and refract light, creating the illusion of a metallic surface.

Metallic Borer Beetle

Diversity of Species

The Buprestidae family is incredibly diverse, with species varying in size, shape, and color. For example:

  • Chrysochroa fulgidissima is known for its brilliant gold and green iridescence.
  • The Sternocera genus boasts an array of species, with colors like metallic blue, purple, and green.
SpeciesColor
C. fulgidissimaGold and green
Sternocera genusMetallic blue, purple, and green

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Jewel beetles are found across the globe, inhabiting forests, woodlands, and even gardens. Their unique characteristics make them popular among collectors and nature enthusiasts alike.

  • Distinctive features:
    • Metallic sheen
    • Diverse colors
    • Varying sizes and shapes

Jewel beetles, though fascinating and beautiful, can be harmful to certain tree species when their larvae burrow into the wood, causing damage. However, this does not undermine the important ecological role they play in forest ecosystems.

In conclusion, jewel beetles are a remarkable group of insects, known for their vibrant colors and striking metallic sheen. With their vast diversity and intriguing characteristics, they continue to captivate the attention of both scientists and enthusiasts.

Biology and Life Cycle

Eggs and Larval Stage

Jewel beetles go through a four-stage life cycle involving the egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Female jewel beetles lay their eggs on tree trunks or branches1. These eggs hatch into larvae, which then start feeding on organic material found in their environment. Some common features of jewel beetle larvae include:

  • Soft, white-to-yellowish body color
  • C-shaped, legless appearance
  • A darker, harder head compared to the rest of the body

After several weeks of feeding and growing, the larvae prepare for the next phase of their life cycle.

Pupa and Adult Stage

Once the larvae have reached their full size, they enter the pupal stage. Pupation often occurs inside a small chamber that the larva makes within the wood. During this stage, the beetle undergoes further transformation into a highly attractive adult jewel beetle.

Adult jewel beetles are renowned for their remarkable metallic colors, which are created by complex structures within their wing covers2. These colors serve several functions, such as:

  • Attracting mates
  • Camouflage
  • Signaling to predators their unpalatability

To provide a comparison, here’s a table summarizing the key characteristics of each stage in a jewel beetle’s life cycle:

StageKey FeaturesDuration
EggLaid on tree trunks or branchesDays to weeks1
LarvaeSoft, legless, C-shapedWeeks to months3
PupaTransformation inside a chamber in woodDays to weeks4
AdultMetallic colors, mate, and lay eggsMonths to years5

Habitat and Distribution

Forests and Woodlands

Jewel beetles (family Buprestidae) are a diverse group with over 15,000 known species worldwide. A considerable number of species can be found in various forest and woodland habitats. These beetles are often seen on tree trunks, branches, and fallen logs. They’re commonly found on:

  • Deciduous trees
  • Coniferous trees
  • Eucalyptus trees, especially in Australia

Geographical Range

The geographical range of jewel beetles is extensive, spanning across multiple continents and climates. Here are some examples:

  • North and Central America
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Australia

In Australia, jewel beetles can be found in a variety of habitats, such as eucalyptus forests and woodlands. This country has approximately 500 species of jewel beetles, which makes it a diverse hotspot for these stunning insects.

Ecology and Behavior

Host Plants and Feeding Habits

Jewel beetles, also known as Buprestidae, have diverse feeding habits, depending on their life stage and species. Larvae typically feed on the wood, roots, or leaves of host plants1. Some common host plants include:

  • Deciduous trees
  • Coniferous trees
  • Herbaceous plants

Adult jewel beetles often feed on leaves, nectar, or pollen from flowers. They are known to be attracted by volatile chemicals released by stressed or damaged trees2.

Predators and Defense Mechanisms

Jewel beetles have various predators, including:

  • Birds
  • Reptiles
  • Small mammals
  • Larger insects

To defend themselves against these predators, jewel beetles rely on their hard exoskeletons and bright, metallic coloration. The coloration can serve as a warning to potential predators or provide camouflage in certain environments3.

Defense MechanismDescription
Hard exoskeletonProtects the beetle from physical harm
Bright, metallic colorationServes as a warning or camouflage

Pollinator and Pest Role

Jewel beetles play a dual role in the ecosystem as both pollinators and pests4. As pollinators, they help plants reproduce by transferring pollen between flowers as they feed. Some characteristics of jewel beetles as pollinators include:

  • Effective pollen transporters
  • Attracted to specific flower types

However, in their role as pests, they can cause damage to trees and crops. This is particularly true for the larval stage, as they bore into plant tissue and disrupt nutrient flow. Affected plants may experience:

  • Weakened structural integrity
  • Reduced growth
  • Increased susceptibility to diseases

Overall, the impact of jewel beetles on the ecosystem is complex due to their various roles and interactions with other organisms.

Color Vision and Research

Tetra-Chromatic Color Sensitivity

Jewel beetles exhibit an impressive form of color vision known as tetra-chromatic color sensitivity. This enables them to see a wider range of colors, including ultraviolet (UV) light, compared to humans who have only tri-chromatic color sensitivity. For example, in low-light conditions, such as nocturnal environments, jewel beetles can still distinguish between blue and green shades.

Postdoctoral associate in the Wardill Lab at the College of Biological Sciences highlights that nocturnal fruit flies also share this tetra-chromatic vision, offering increased adaptability.

Genetic and Molecular Basis

The enhanced color vision in jewel beetles can be attributed to their specific genetic makeup. Their tetra-chromatic color sensitivity arises from duplicate genes which provide the molecular basis for this fascinating trait. Understanding the gene sequence responsible for this advanced form of color vision has the potential to inform research on color perception in other species, such as colorful birds.

Impact on Pollinators and Pests

Jewel beetles play a crucial role in their ecosystems as both pollinators and pests. Their unique color vision undoubtedly influences their behavior in these capacities:

Pros:

  • Highly effective pollinators due to sensitivity to a wider range of colors
  • Contribute to maintaining balanced ecosystems

Cons:

  • May cause damage to crop production
  • May spread certain plant diseases

Researchers and scientists are continually studying these insects using techniques like electrophysiology to further understand their visual capabilities’ impact. This knowledge could lead to improved pest and pollinator management strategies, benefiting both agriculture and ecosystem health.

Notable features include:

  • Tetra-chromatic color sensitivity
  • Can see ultraviolet (UV) light
  • Highly effective pollinators

Characteristics worth mentioning:

  • Genetic changes and molecular basis for color vision
  • Duplicate genes responsible for enhanced vision
  • Study subjects for the National Science Foundation-funded research

Subfamilies and Notable Species

Agrilinae

Agrilinae is a subfamily of jewel beetles, which includes the infamous emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). These beetles are known for their metallic green color and their destructive impact on ash trees.

Buprestinae

In the Buprestinae subfamily, one notable species is Chrysochroa rajah. These beetles exhibit a vibrant, iridescent blue-green color. Buprestinae is a large subfamily containing species commonly known as metallic wood-boring beetles.

Chrysochroinae

Chrysochroinae beetles are characterized by their distinct elongated bodies and bright colors. This subfamily includes species like Chrysochroa fulgidissima.

Galbellinae

Galbellinae is a smaller subfamily within the jewel beetle group. This subfamily includes species with more subtle coloration and markings than their flashier counterparts.

Julodinae

Julodinae beetles are known for their large size and cylindrical bodies. They often have unique patterns, like those found in Julodis andreae.

Polycestinae

The Polycestinae subfamily features a diverse array of species, some of which have been compared to Chrysochroinae in terms of coloration and body shape.

Comparison Table

SubfamilyCharacteristicsExample Species
AgrilinaeMetallic green, destructiveEmerald ash borer
BuprestinaeIridescent, metallic colorsChrysochroa rajah
ChrysochroinaeElongated bodies, bright colorsChrysochroa fulgidissima
GalbellinaeSubtle coloration, smaller subfamilyGalbella sp.
JulodinaeLarge size, cylindrical bodiesJulodis andreae
PolycestinaeDiverse array of speciesPolycesta sp.

Some common features of jewel beetles:

  • Bright, metallic colors
  • Typically elongated body shape
  • Wood-boring tendencies
  • Strong fliers with hard, protective elytra

Cultural Significance

Collectors and Jewel Beetle Enthusiasts

Jewel beetles are sought after by collectors and enthusiasts due to their beautiful and colorful elytra. These brightly colored casings are made of chitin, giving the beetles an iridescent shimmer that ranges from green to blue-purple1.

Features of jewel beetles:

  • Iridescent elytra
  • Wide range of colors
  • Unique patterns on carapaces

Enthusiasts have created communities, both online and offline, dedicated to finding, collecting, and admiring jewel beetles.

Jewel Beetle in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

In the popular Nintendo Switch game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, players can catch and collect various insects, including the jewel beetle2. The game features a dung beetle as well, offering a comparison of beetle types.

Jewel Beetle in New Horizons :

  • Availability: April to August (Northern Hemisphere); October to February (Southern Hemisphere)
  • Location: Tree stumps
  • Selling price: 2,400 bells

This digital collecting has led to the creation of guides3 to help players catch and collect these virtual beetles, as well as fostering an appreciation for their beauty and unique characteristics.

Conservation and Environmental Impact

Threats to Jewel Beetle Populations

  • Habitat loss: One major threat is habitat loss, which leads to decreased availability of host plants for Jewel Beetle larvae.

  • Pesticide exposure: The beetle species is also susceptible to pesticide exposure, which can affect their survival and reproduction rates.

Floristic Relationships

Jewel Beetles are known for their colorful and iridescent appearance, often found on various types of flowers. Their preference for certain flowers highlights their interesting floristic relationships. Jewel Beetles have been observed pollinating plants, thereby playing a key role in their ecosystems. Some notable examples include:

  • Mangrove plants: Jewel Beetles are important pollinators of mangrove plants, which are essential for maintaining coastal ecosystems and supporting a variety of wildlife.

  • Angiosperms: These beetles have also been found to pollinate angiosperms, a diverse group of flowering plants that further contribute to ecological diversity.

Comparison of Pollination Efficacy

Pollinator SpeciesPollination Efficacy
Jewel BeetleHigh
HoneybeeModerate to High
ButterflyModerate

In conclusion, understanding the conservation and environmental impact of Jewel Beetles is important to maintain this species’ ecological roles. Their vibrant appearance, close relationship with flowers, and significant contribution to pollination make them a valuable asset in their ecosystems. Ensuring their protection and preserving their habitats are vital steps towards maintaining their populations and ensuring their ongoing ecological contributions.

Footnotes

  1. https://example.com/jewel-beetle-egg-laying 2 3 4

  2. https://example.com/jewel-beetle-colors 2 3

  3. https://example.com/jewel-beetle-larvae-duration 2 3

  4. https://example.com/jewel-beetle-pupa-duration 2

  5. https://example.com/jewel-beetle-adult-lifespan

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 – Flat Headed Borer Larva: Hippomelas sphenicus maybe

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

Flat Headed Borer Larva
Flat Headed Borer Larva

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

Letter 2 – Flat Headed Borer Grub

White worm w/ odd head
Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 8:50 AM
White worm w/ odd head
Hi. Two of these worms have come off the firewood in the last couple days, here in PA. Just wondering what they are. The picture should provide a lot of info.
Thanks!!
Diane B.
SE Pennsylvania

Flat Headed Borer Grub
Flat Headed Borer Grub

Hi Diane,
This is a Flat Headed Borer Grub in the family Buprestidae, known as the Metallic Wood Borers or Jewel Beetles.  You can match your photo to one we located on a Forestry Images website or to the images on BugGuide. Many of the adult beetles are quite gorgeous and are sometimes made into jewelry in tropical counties.  Sadly, we are not skilled enough to tell you the exact species.  Flat Headed Borers often live many years as grubs feeding on wood.  We have heard reports of the Golden Buprestid, Buprestis aurulenta, emerging from furniture 50 years after it was built.  You can confirm this online in numerous places including a Canadian Forestry site.  We have received our own report of an adult Golden Buprestid emerging from an 8 year old pine cutting board.  If your firewood is local, you have a different species of Flat Headed Borer as the Golden Buprestid is native to the Pacific Northwest.

Letter 3 – Flathead Borer

Sorry! I jumped the gun!
Location: Sarasota, FL
May 17, 2012 3:53 pm
I just sent a picture of a grub we found in a dead slash pine in Florida. After checking a little further, it appears to be the larvae of the flatheaded or metallic wood borer. We also found a few of them in the tree. Here is the photo again for reference. Keep up the great work!
Signature: Poolman

Flathead Borer

Hi Poolman,
What a beautiful Flathead Borer and we are thrilled that you managed to identify it in our convoluted archive with its nearly 15,000 postings. We expect that David Gracer would report that it is an Edible species and most likely a tasty morsel.

Letter 4 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle: Dicerca divaricata???

2″ Long Colorful Beetle
Sun, May 24, 2009 at 11:15 PM
Found it in my sunny driveway, I live in southern Vermont and have never seen anything like this before. Definitely the most attractive looking bug I’ve ever seen
Spragels Bigels
Southern Vermont

Dicerca divercata???
Dicerca divaricata???

Dear Spragels Bigels,
This is one of the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles in the family Buprestidae, sometimes called Jewel Beetles.  We believe it is in the genus Dicerca, probably Dicerca divaricata.  If your specimen is really 2 inches long, it is a trophey.  Most specimens posted to BugGuide are less than an inch long, and the largest example there is 1 1/2 inches long.  We would not rule out that this may be a Poplar Borer, Dicerca tenebrica, which is also pictured on BugGuide.  Again, your 2 inch long specimen would be unusually large.

Letter 5 – Flat-Head Borer

Larva state, boring into birch and other trees, not termite!
March 25, 2010
Recently I’ve been tracking penetrations of various trees within our yard. These penetrations have been through scars or lower elevation entry.
Recently I removed another section of birch of what was originally a 4-cluster tree, and now only 2-remain.
The holes are much larger than any termite hole. Once the tree was dissected, I came upon a large headed-to-body ratio larva, whitish in color, some-what segmented. approx lenght 1.” to 1.25″
At a loss and trees are not cheap??
erick at www.ameriturfsystems.com
Back yard tree larva
So-California, inland 20-miles

Flat-Head Borer Larva

Hi erick,
This is the larva of a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle, known as a Flat-Head Borer, in the family Buprestidae.  See BugGuide for more.  Some adults are lovely beetles with bright coloration that are called Jewel Beetles.  Sorry we cannot be more specific as to the species.

Flat-Head Borer Larva

Letter 6 – Flat Headed Borer

Wood Borer
A whole bunch of these fellows crawled out of some firewood logs that were drying out in our garage. Can anyone identify them? BTW, awesome website!
John Hufnagel
SE Pennsylvania

Hi John,
The Flat Headed Borer, Buprestis rufipes, is a new species for us. This metallic wood borer breeds in a variety of hardwood trees in the Eastern U.S. north to Pennsylvania and west to Texas.

Letter 7 – Flathead Borer

Worm or larve?
Subject: Worm or larve?
Location: Santa Fe, NM USA
December 28, 2010 6:37 pm
I found this near a stack of wood on our porch in Santa Fe, NM and do not know what it is. It is about 1” long and milky white color. Help
Signature: Thanks, Jonathan

Flathead Borer

Hi Jonathan,
This is a Flathead Borer, the larva of a Beetle in the family Buprestidae, commonly called the Metallic Wood Borers or Jewel Beetles.  We are unable to identify the exact species, and it appears as though this individual has been squashed.  Beetles in the family Buprestidae are often beautifully colored and patterned, and they are highly revered among collectors.  You can see some examples of Jewel Beetles in our archives.

Cool.
Should I worry about my house with these or are they mostly tree/wood pile guys?
Thanks,
JJ

Hi JJ,
You do not need to worry about Flathead Borers infesting your home.  They are found in living and recently dead wood, however, there have been reports of them emerging many years later from milled lumber.  The record, to the best of our knowledge, is of an adult Golden Buprestid emerging from wood that had been milled fifty years earlier, and we ourselves have receive a report of an adult Golden Buprestid emerging from a wooden cutting board that was eight years old.

you are great.  Gonna throw you a donation.
Thanks for your help.
Jonathan

Letter 8 – Flathead Borer

Subject: Larvae in oaks
Location: Europe
July 7, 2017 5:16 am
This larva I found under the bark of an oak. If you could help me to identify! I think it’s a buprestidae member.
Signature: Charlie

Flathead Borer

Dear Charlie,
This is indeed a Flathead Borer, the larva of a Beetle in the family Buprestidae, but alas, we are not going to be able to provide you with a species identification.  It might be the European Oak Borer,
Agrilus sulcicollis, which is pictured here and is the subject of a technical paper on Cambridge.org.

Dear Daniel, thanks for your rapid answer. I will investigate from there, even I hope to help the larva to raise an adult and make a proper id.
Best regards,

Letter 9 – Flathead Borer Larva

Subject: I found a bug in my house near some firewood
Location: Texas
January 18, 2013 8:15 pm
Its a white bug seems if u can see its insides which are black but not many. Its all white with a big head and small black eyes. It seems to be about 2 inches long. It looks like a worm.
Signature: I want it answered please

Flathead Borer Larva

This is a Flathead Borer, the larva of a wood boring beetle in the family Buprestidae.  Adults are often brightly colored with metallic elytra, and they are called Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles. It is impossible for us to determine the exact species.  You do not need to worry about this larva feeding on your furniture, though there are reports of adult beetles emerging from milled wood and furniture as many as fifty years after the wood was harvested.  You can see more images of Flathead Borers on BugGuide.

Letter 10 – Flathead Borer Larva

Subject: Worm?
Location: Missouri USA
February 14, 2015 8:02 am
Found this in my firewood. It is a little more than one inch long. Thought at first it was some kind of tapeworm. What could it be?
Signature: PJ

Flathead Borer
Flathead Borer

Dear PJ,
This is a beetle larva in the family Buprestidae, the Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles, and the larvae are known as Flathead Borers.  You can see matching images on BugGuide.  Knowing the species of wood might help to narrow down the species possibilities of the Flathead Borer.  Here is an image of Flathead Borers from BugGuide.

Letter 11 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle from Brazil

Help with ID, possible Metallic Wood Boring Beetle in Brazil
Hi Daniel!
First off, great website! I am writing to congratulate and say that I have posted a video a while ago of a strange big beetle found on my parents house in Ribeirao Preto, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Attached are some stills of the beetle, some of them are on flickr as well. I had no idea if the insect was a cockroach or a beetle and on the comments for that video I was pointed to your website, where I could find some similar beetles photos, I am suspecting it was something similar to this other 2
Fabricio

Hi Fabricio,
Your beetle is indeed one of the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles in the family Buprestidae. We believe it may be Euchroma gigantea but we might be wrong. Perhaps one of our readers knows for sure.

Update
Daniel:
You are correct in your species ID of the giant buprestid. I’ve never seen a live one, that must really be something!
Eric

Update: (04/06/2008)
Edibility update: big buprestid
Daniel,
Hope things are good with you two. The big wood borer is eaten in both the larval and adult stages. Here’s a source and pertinent text. http://www.food-insects.com/book7_31/Chapter%2007%20Colombia.htm Dufour (1987 ) reported E. gigantea among the foods of the Tukanoans. The Tukanoan name for it is boopica . This, plus other coleopterans used were all woodboring; the larvae were preferred although adults were occasionally eaten as well. The dry weight of the adult beetle was found to be 3.0g. Best,
Dave

Letter 12 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle

Green gold speckled metallic bug
This little guy caught a ride halfway across Nebraska on the outside mirror of our truck a couple of days ago. We made a couple of stops and I had kind of forgotten about him, but I glanced out later, and there he was – clinging to the mirror with all six(?) legs, his feelers blowing in the 75 MPH breeze. We can’t find anything like him on the web – can you help? Love you site, by the way. And I finally found out what it was that I had collected years ago at my parents house in central Nebraska. I found a little roundish beetle-like bug dead on the ground. He had green metallic wing covers and a gold metallic shield-shaped head covering with a shiny black horn curling up over his back. A rainbow scarab! The pictures on your site were a spitting image. Thanks!
Bill Richman
Lincoln, Nebraska

Hi Bill,
We are very excited to post your little hitch-hiker. This is a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle, and we believe it is Buprestis confluenta, a new species for our site. Metallic Wood Boring Beetles are much prized by collectors for their beauty. They are also called Jewel Beetles and Flat Headed Borers. It is wonderful that your photo, thanks to the mirror, shows both the dorsal and ventral views.

Letter 13 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle

From Portland
This flashy guy made it up 12 stories in the middle of downtown Portland, OR. Any ideas what he is? He’s about an inch and a quarter long.
Rick

Hi Rick,
We weren’t sure what species your Metallic Wood Boring Beetle from the Family Buprestidae was, so we wrote to Eric Eaton. Here is his response: “Possibly Buprestis adjecta. Hard to tell from such a distant photo, but
that is certainly a likely candidate.”

Letter 14 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle: Dicerca species

Bug
Any idea what kind of bug this is?
Brent

Hi Brent,
This is a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle in the Family Buprestidae. We believe it is Dicerca divaricata, but we are not positive as you did not include the information we request, most notably your location on the planet. Dicerca divaricata is a North American beetle. Adults often sun themselves on limbs of their host trees, including apple, peach, pear, cherry, birch, ironwood, black ash, sugar maple and others, according to Dillon and Dillon.

Thank for your information. I live in Vermont. I found the bug on my living room floor. With your information I have researched it some more and believe that it is actually a Dicera tenebrosa. It is much more copper colored that the Dicera divaricata. I believe the bug fell out of a piece of firewood. Thanks again Brent.

Letter 15 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle

Buprestidae Family??
Hi!
Your site rocks, even though I routinely lose 2-3 hours at a time reading it. I have always found the bugs I am looking for on your site, but not this one. It appears to be a member of the Buprestidae family, but like I said I couldn’t find an exact match. It was found near a wood-pile here on Vashon Island, WA, and it is sitting on a piece of styrofoam about 1-inch in diameter. Thanks for making such an awesome site.
Matt

Hi Matt,
Thank you so much for the compliment. This is a Buprestid, the Metallic Wood Boring Beetle Family. We believe it is in the genus Dicerca and are awaiting a confirmation from Eric Eaton.

Letter 16 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle from Panama

Accurate ID on the following Buprestid beetle
Would appreciate an accurate scientific ID on this buprestid.
Thanks
Dick Beckett
Balboa Ancon Panama

Hi Dick,
We have problems with exact species identification from the tropics. Your photo shows a beautiful Metallic Wood Boring Beetle. According to Eric Eaton: “The giant metallic woodborer from Panama should turn out to be Euchroma gigantea. “

Letter 17 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle: Sculptured Pine Borer

Could you identify me?
Bugman,
I found this on the floor of my parent’s house in north-central Wisconsin. My father works trimming trees all day so it’s very possible that it came in attached to his clothing. Otherwise, I’d like to know what it is incase there may be a million more of them hidden somewhere in the house. This picture really doesn’t do the coloration justice. The overall color of the bug was much lighter than the overwhelming black shown here. It was more of a metallic, shiny gold with very intricate black flowing lines on it’s back. Even the bottom side of the bug was a shiny gold (not yellow gold, more like a metallic gold). When I first picked it up I thought it was a cheap piece of jewelry or a toy. When it started moving it’s legs, I realized that it obviously was not! It was about an inch-and-a-half to two inches long, and pretty slender. I looked on the internet, and especially your site (great site by the way) and could not find a picture of this bug. I have a few more pictures that I could forward if it would help in the ID.
Thanks!
Jason

Hi Jason,
This is a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle in the genus Chalcophora. We believe this is the Sculptured Pine Borer, Chalcophora virginiensis though it might be the Western Sculptured Pine Borer, Chalcophora angulicollis. Your location is right at the junction of the two species ranges. It could also be a different species. Despite being wood borers, they will not infest your home and most likely came in on your father’s clothing. Perhaps when Eric Eaton returns, he can give us an exact species.

Update (06/21/2006) From Eric Eaton:
“Last I heard, Chalcophora angusticollis was lumped with C. virginiensis. I may have the spellings wrong, forgive me if I do, but you get the picture. They might still be considered as separate by some authorities.”

Letter 18 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle from Guatemala: Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer Beetle

BIG insect
I am in Guatemala and a bug flew into my neighbor’s boat. His wings had an iridescent, abalone coloring that rubbed off shiny yellowish. His head was more like a grasshopper’s. He was BIG. Clearly, I’ve got too much time on my hands because I have looked at more bugs on the internet than I ever thought possible. Can you give me any idea what this bug is? One “expert” suggested it looked like a big cockroach except for its head… Here is a link to the bug on my webshots page, which I handled. It liked to crawl, didn’t seem to be interested in flying away, and (thank goodness) it didn’t bite. Sincerely,
Sharon Kratz

Hi Sharon,
This is a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle in the family Buprestidae. We got another photo from Panama in 2005 and Eric Eaton thought it might be the Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer Beetle, Euchroma gigantea. Most photos we found online did not seem to match your specimen, but we finally located an image that does appear to be a match. Freshly emerged specimens are reported to have a yellow bloom which would explain your observation. Once the bloom rubs off, the colors are more iridescent. The scientific name means “colorful giant” according to some information we have located. The elytra or wing covers are made into jewelry and ornaments by peoples in Central and South America; adults are eaten by Tzeltal-Mayan Indians in Chiapas, Mexico. The range of the insect reaches from Mexico to Argentina.

Letter 19 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle

Hi,
I found this little guy in July here in Bend, Oregon. It only stayed around for this one shot and flew off. It’s maybe 7/16″ long. It is quite beautiful and I would like to know what kind of beetle it is.He mentioned he would like to be ‘Bug of the Month’ as he flew off. Thanks,
John

Hi John,
This is one of the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles in the family Buprestidae. We believe it is Buprestis decora because of a match we found on BugGuide. We can’t find the range on Buprestis decora, and there are several other beautiful members of this genus that are found in the Pacific Northwest. When Eric Eaton returns from holiday in the east, we will try to get an exact species from him. As a side note, the Bug of the Month is generally a seasonal occurrance, meaning, people from all over the country or at least a major part of our readership is sighting a species at a certain time. Your lovely Buprestis decora might be a likely candidate for a Sighting of the Month, the most unusual specimen we received in a given month. At any rate, it will be on our homepage for about a week.

Letter 20 – Metallic Borer Beetle: Buprestis rufipes

Bugs
Hello Bug Man,
I live in Needville ,Texas suburb outside of Houston . I live on 2 acres and last year I lost a very large Water Oak with large holes in the trunk. I lost another Water Oak 20ft from the other one I lost year. I started spraying melathion poison on the trunks and notice these 2 types of bugs, are they wood borers? What can I use to kill these bugs? I notice a lot of my tree’s have small holes in the trunk. Thanks,
Bill

Hi Bill,
The image you labeled beetle 1 is a Brochymena Stink Bug and is not your problem. Beetle 2 looks like Buprestis rufipes, and it is a Metallic Wood Borer, but BugGuide lists its host trees as maple and birch, not oak. We will try to get Eric Eaton’s opinion on this.

Letter 21 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle from Guatemala

Love your site!!!!!
I met this beetle in the western highland of Guatemala. Can you tell me anything about him/her?
Deborah Fraize

Hi Deborah,
This is a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle in the family Buprestidae, but we don’t currently have the time to research the exact species. Perhaps one of our enthusiastic readers can give us something more exact.

Update: February 16, 2011
Thanks to a comment from wildabug, we are able to link to an image of a different species,
Psiloptera torquata, on The Insect Collector website.

Letter 22 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle: Buprestis rufipes

Interesting Find
Here are a couple of bugs I found at work. I couldn’t ID them myself. I thought the one may be a Metallic Wood Borer, but the markings didn’t match up. HELP ME BUG MAN! thanks
chad

Hi Chad,
There are many species of Metallic Wood Boring Beetles in the family Buprestidae. Your specimen is Buprestis rufipes. It is nice to get your living specimen photo since the last one we received was dead. Your other insect, which we cannot post due to time constraints, is a tree cricket.

Letter 23 – Metallic Borer Beetle from Iran

Green Buprestid from Iran
Tue, Jan 13, 2009 at 6:47 AM
Green Buprestid from Iran
Hi,
Thanks for this very nice and informative website,
One of friends gave me this lovely buprestid. It had a very brilliant, Emerald green color but after pinning (Really tough work to get through the elytra, you all know!) its just pale metallic green. I just want to know its scientific name.
Yours, Mohsen Arooni,
Tehran, Iran

Metallic Borer Beetle
Metallic Borer Beetle

Hi Mohsen,
Many years ago we identified a similar looking Buprestid from Italy (if memory serves us correctly) but we are having problems locating that posting since our site migration in September. Perhaps it never made the transition. We are going to search through our old Dreamweaver files in an attempt to locate it. Meanwhile, perhaps one of our readers will write in with an identification.

Ed. note:
We spent a goodly portion of time searching our old website and found several postings that did not migrate, including the Mediterranean Flathead Woodborer from October 2003, but it looks nothing like this Buprestid.

Update: Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 6:18 AM
Daniel:
Maurizio Gigli maintains a terrific Jewel Beetle (family Buprestidae) website. Mohsen Arooni’s beetle is likely in the genus Julodis . It could be J. andreae or J. onopordi, but it looks more like J. ampliata. Their geographic distributions are somewhat different. I assumed this one was from Iran, but I also thought that it might just be the location of the poster. Knowing the origin of the specimen may be helpful. Regards.
Karl
http://utenti.romascuola.net/bups/jewel.htm

Letter 24 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle from Turkey

Boring Beetle? – Turkey
Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 11:39 AM
We saw these flying rather loudly around willow trees near a stream north of Gaziantep, Turkey. They were quite active and a bit skittish but once I caught one it calmed down long enough for me to get a photo. It’s about an inch and a half long or a little more.
kipouros
Gaziantep/Araban Prefecture/Turkey

Mediterranean Flathead Woodborer
Mediterranean Flathead Woodborer

Dear kipouros,
Many years ago we identified a very similar Buprestid, or Metallic Wood Boring Beetle from Italy.  We believe it is the same species, Capnodis tenebrionis which goes by the common name Mediterranean Flathead Woodborer. The adults feed on the leaves of apricot trees, almond trees and other stone fruits. The larvae bore into the roots and cause great damage.  We located a fine website with information and photos.

Ed. Note Correction: December 31, 2010
Two different readers have provided a correction for us, identifying this Borer as a different member in the same genus:
Capnodis cariosa.

Letter 25 – Metallic Borer Beetles: Obscure Dicerca

Small pair of well camouflaged beetled
Location: Cherokee County, NC
May 4, 2011 9:16 pm
Hello again, seems I have another insect needing a proper name.
Found these two beetled a few days ago slowly making their way up a persimmon tree. The one on top of each photograph took the lead, and the other followed behind for a few minutes.
A small ovipositor-like organ emerged from time to time from the upper beetle’s abdomen, and was probing the cracks and crevices in the tree bark.
I think they might be click beetles, but I’m not entirely certain. Their eyes seem larger than most of the ones I’ve seen, and their shells a little stockier. I didn’t want to disturb them, so I left them alone, and several hours later they were gone.
Signature: Jacob

Metallic Borer Beetles

Hi Jacob,
These are Metallic Borer Beetles in the family Buprestidae.  The larvae are known as Flat Headed Borers.  We decided to do a web search of Buprestidae and Persimmon and we believe we correctly identified your beetles as Obscure Dicerca on the Beetles in the Bush website.  Here is a lengthy and descriptive excerpt from that site:  “During my recent trip to northwestern Oklahoma, we visited Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area, a 17,000-acre chunk of land containing mixed-grass prairie, shinnery oak (Quercus havardii) shrublands, and mesic woodlands along the South Canadian River.  In one of these woodlands, I encountered a small grove of persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) trees – some of which had recently died.  Whenever I see dead persimmons, I immediately think of the jewel beetle species, Dicerca obscura (family Buprestidae).  This attractive species is one of the larger jewel beetles occurring in our country, and although it is fairly commonly encountered in collections, seeing the living beetles in the field is always a treat.  Dicerca obscura is most commonly associated with persimmon, from which I have reared it on several occasions, but Knull (1920) also recorded rearing it from staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina).  I began inspecting the dead trees for the presence of the beetles but didn’t see any at first.  Then, I saw something moving right where I had been looking.  I had, in fact, looked right over this beetle without seeing it – even though I knew what could be there and what it looked like.  I don’t know if the species name (from the Latin obscurus, meaning indistinct) was actually given because of its marvelous cryptic abilities, but it certainly could have been.  As I continued to inspect the trees more closely, I found several additional adults – all sitting on trunks that I had just inspected a few minutes prior.   …  However, in the context of their environment, their coloration and sculpturing helps them blend in and become almost invisible.”

Thank you for the ID, that excerpt described the little fellows perfectly.

Letter 26 – Metallic Borer Beetle

At first glance…
Location: Western NY state
May 23, 2011 5:08 pm
I found this bug on my shirt pocket May 21, 2011 in Western NY state. It looked iridescent in the sun, but it looks even more interesting in the shade. It wasn’t very active – after brushing it off my shirt, it calmly posed for pictures. I don’t have a clue as to what it is, but the pics looked quite interesting to me.
Signature: Gary D. Timothy

Metallic Borer Beetle

Hi Gary,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we believe we have narrowed the identification down to the genus
Dicerca, however, there are many species that look quite similar that are found in your area (24 species listed in North America), and we do not feel comfortable taking the identification to the species level.  You can see BugGuide for the possibilities.  BugGuide indicates:  “Many breed in decaying hardwoods.”  The detail of the head might make species identification a bit easier for an expert.

Letter 27 – Metallic Borer Beetle, we believe, but what species????

Please identify
Location: Central Mississippi
June 20, 2011 10:05 am
We have some bugs that come into our enclosed garage and apparently get over on their backs and can’t get up. Some are dead, some are wiggling. They have shiny gold bottom-sides but under their wings, they are blue-colored. There are several each day. Can you identify? Photos taken after dead. Can provide more in another day.
Signature: wbl

Metallic Borer Beetle we believe

Dear wbl,
We wish the quality of your photo was better.  Higher resolution woul allow us to view the details more closely.  We believe this is a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, but we are uncertain of the species.  We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide additional information.

Eric Eaton provides a genus
Hi, Daniel:
You are correct, it is a buprestid.  Genus is Chrysobothris but species identification requires dissection of the genitalia.  Most Chrysobothris have the brilliant metallic blue or green abdomens that are exposed only in flight.
Eric

Letter 28 – Metallic Borer Beetle

Drab beetle with metallic abdomen
Location: 20 Mill Street Extension, Newington, CT 06111
July 13, 2011 11:16 am
I photographed it on July 11. It was about 1 inch long, rather drab brown with a few spots on the wingcases. But when I scared it, it would flicker open the wingcases to reveal a metallic bluish green abdomen. It flew away when I photographed it.
Signature: Chris Dubey

Metallic Borer Beetle

Hi Chris,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and its drab coloration and metallic green abdomen identify as a member of the genus C
hrysobothris.

Letter 29 – Metallic Borer Beetle Larvae

what is this?
Location: Nort east , India
February 17, 2012 8:14 am
I sleep with my grandmother and i heard a few noises the next day i complained about it to my parents and when we split the wood into two we found these worms. they ate up all the wood used in the window pane!!!what are they???we usually thought that they were termites but they turned out to b something else.
Signature: lavanya

Metallic Borer Beetle Larvae

Hi lavanya,
These are the larvae of Metallic Borer Beetles in the family Buprestidae.  The larvae are wood borers that are called Flat-Head Borers and the adults are sometimes called Jewel Beetles because of their beautiful colors.  Larvae of Buprestids have been known to survive in milled wood for as long as fifty years.  See these photos on BugGuide for a comparison to some larvae from North American Buprestids.

Letter 30 – Metallic Borer Beetle, we believe

Subject: What is this thing?
Location: Northern Illinois
January 21, 2013 4:54 pm
Found this bug coming out of a piece of grapewood that we’ve had for some time, but only recently placed in a very warm reptile enclosure. The origin of the wood is unknown as we purchased it from a retail store. We had to use a drill to remove it from the wood. We’re very curious as to what it is and if it is harmful to reptiles.
Signature: Michelle Larsen

Metallic Borer Beetle

Dear Michelle,
Because of the distortion caused by the plastic bag, we cannot be certain, but this looks to us to be a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  Larvae of Metallic Borer Beetles bore in wood, feeding on it as well.  They have been known to emerge from milled wood and furniture many years after the trees have been cut.  Since you don’t know the origin of the wood, we don’t want to try to determine the species as we have no country of origin with which to begin.  We suspect your larger reptiles might have made a tasty morsel from this Metallic Borer Beetle if given the opportunity.

Letter 31 – Click Beetle from Canada: Selatosomus species

Subject: Can you tell me
Location: PEI Canada
May 20, 2013 5:33 am
we found this bug on Haskaps we grow and would like to know what it is
Signature: Tommy

Metallic Borer Beetle
Click Beetle

Dear Tommy,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We need to research the species and we may run out of time this morning.  Our initial search did not provide a species ID so we will try to contact Eric Eaton and perhaps one of our readers will submit a comment today.

Correction courtesy of Eric Eaton and Mardikavana (via comment)
Daniel:
That is because it is not a buprestid 🙂  This is a click beetle, family Elateridae (note acute hind angles on the thorax), specifically this one:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/456972
Neat find, great image!
Eric

Letter 32 – Metallic Borer Beetle from Sardinia

Subject: 4 cm long,speckled beetle?
Location: Sardinia,south west of Italy
October 20, 2013 5:25 am
Dear Bugman,could you identify this curious insect?
Signature: Leonardo Loru

Mediterranean Flathead Woodborer
Capnodis cariosa

Dear Leonardo,
Back in 2003, we received a photo of this Metallic Wood Boring Beetle from the family Buprestidae, and we eventually identified it
Capnodis cariosa thanks to the assistance of Mardikavana.

Letter 33 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle: Buprestis confluenta

Subject: Cool flying beetle
Location: boyd lake state park, Loveland CO
July 13, 2014 2:26 am
This beetle flew into our truck near boyd lake in eastern colorado. It’s pretty cool looking and I wondered if it has a name
Signature: bc

Jewel Beetle:
Jewel Beetle:  Buprestis confluenta

Dear bc,
This is a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we believe we have correctly identified it as
 Buprestis confluenta thanks to images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 34 – Metallic Borer Beetle from Spain

Subject:  Large flying beetle Spain
Geographic location of the bug:  Granada province, Andalucia,  southern Spain
Date: 08/11/2018
Time: 04:34 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Struggling to identify this large, flying beetle in southern Spain. Predominanlty black but with distinctive mottle-like markings. This one is about an inch but I’ve seen ones maybe 2 inches at their largest. They seem to like our cherry tree saplings if that’s helpful. When you approach they crawl round the other side of the branch – making photo-taking difficult (!) and if that doesn’t work they drop off the tree into the leaf litter. They appear around July/August time.  Any ideas?
How you want your letter signed:  Tom, Spain

Capnodis tenebrionis

Dear Tom,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and we have identified it as
 Capnodis tenebrionis thanks to this image on FlickR.  According to Koppert Biological Systems:  “Capnodis tenebrionis is one of the most important pests in cultivated stone fruit (f.e. cherries, apricots and almonds) and in some cases seed fruit (apples and pears). … Both adult beetles and larvae damage plants. Adults feed on twigs and young branches mainly causing problems in tree nurseries and young plants. The greatest damage is caused by the larvae. Immediately after hatching they penetrate into the roots of the trees and feed on the cortex. They form long sinuous galleries full of sawdust. Young trees die as a result of this damage. A few larvae can also cause the death of an adult tree in 1 or 2 years.”  A suggestion for the organic control of Capnodis tenebrionis is also provided on that site.  Good luck saving your cherry trees.

Hi there Daniel,
Thank you very much for the speedy response and identification. Looks like my cherry trees are in for it.
Have you got a paypal account for donations? – Signing up for patreon.com and going through the options is quite time-consuming.
I’d just like to make a quick donation in gratitude for the response.
Thanks, Tom

Letter 35 – Metallic Borer Beetle: Gaurotes cyanipennis

Subject:  Green metallic bug
Geographic location of the bug:  West Milford, NJ
Date: 06/02/2021
Time: 09:12 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Wood borer?
How you want your letter signed:  Geoffrey Syme

Metallic Borer Beetle: Gaurotes cyanipennis

Dear Geoffrey,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae.  We identified it on BugGuide as
Gaurotes cyanipennis, a species with no common name.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    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.

38 thoughts on “Jewel Beetle: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell”

  1. I think is Capnodis cariosa. According with the size of the finger, C. tenebrionis is smaller.
    Adrian

    Reply
  2. Hello Daniel and Poolman,

    Yup, it’s true. Buprestid grubs are eaten in many parts of the world; though I’ve not had one yet, someday soon I shall. There’s a good chance I’ll be going to SE Asia this summer, and I’ll be on the lookout for some of these guys.

    Best,
    Dave

    Reply
  3. This is a Click Beetle from genus Selatosomus. There are two similar looking species: Selatosomus pulcher and S. festivus but if you look at the distribution maps then it more likely to be S. pulcher. I hope that this information helps.

    Reply
  4. With flatheads only the living phloem, cambium and last ring of sapwood are consumed. In my business as a tree surgeon I have never found these “bugs” deep in the wood like a Locust borer for example. This pest is very common here in New Mexico.

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

      Reply
  5. Several years ago I got some dead mesquite wood in AZ, took it home to MT, stacked and dried it for 5 years and then made a small jewel chest for my granddaughter. The wood had been sawed, planed, and sanded during the construction. Upon completion of third coat of urethane on the chest a flatheaded borer emerged. They are quite resilient, I guess.

    Reply
  6. Just now seeing this buprestid beetle from Vashon Island, photo by Matt. I do not see that Eric commented. So, I’ll tell you that this is DICERCA CRASSICOLLIS. It is not a commonly collected species.

    Reply
  7. COuld this be in Montana?, i had a beatle just like this hit me in the arm driving down the road… I didnt get a picture but it sure looked like this

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

    Reply
  9. I live in northeastern washington and just put a piece of dry rot would in stove and a piece of wood broke off before I got it into stove and there was 2 of these worms.

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

    Reply
  11. I live in south Mississippi. Yesterday I knocked down six pine stumps, the trees were hit by lightning 4 years ago. I found two dozen of these critters in the dead stumps. Wonder if they would be good for fish bait ?

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

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

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

    Reply

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