Understanding the Red Headed Ash Borer: Essential Facts Simplified

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The Redheaded Ash Borer (Neoclytus acuminatus) is a type of longhorned beetle that is commonly found in various regions of North America. These fascinating insects are notable for their reddish heads and thoraces, as well as their dark wings featuring four narrow, yellow bands. Although the adult beetles resemble wasps, they are entirely harmless to humans.

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These beetles are known for breeding in newly planted living trees, dying or dead hardwood trees, and even felled logs with bark still intact. Examples of the trees they infest include oak, hickory, persimmon, hackberry, and ash. While their larvae may damage wood used for commercial purposes, they also contribute to the natural decomposition process and soil enrichment.

The Redheaded Ash Borer’s life cycle involves overwintering inside tree trunks, with adults emerging in early spring to lay eggs under the bark of dead, unseasoned wood. The larvae then feed beneath the bark and tunnel into the sapwood, sometimes reducing it to powder. There are generally two to three generations of these beetles per year, making them an essential part of the ecosystem in which they thrive.

Identification of Red Headed Ash Borer

Scientific Name and Classification

The Red Headed Ash Borer belongs to the Animalia kingdom and is classified as follows:

  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Coleoptera
  • Family: Cerambycidae
  • Genus: Neoclytus
  • Species: Neoclytus acuminatus

Description and Physical Characteristics

The Red Headed Ash Borer is a relatively slender beetle with the following characteristics:

  • Size: 1/2 to 5/8 inch long
  • Head and thorax: Reddish
  • Wings: Dark
  • Legs: Long

Distinctive Features

Some of the distinctive features of the Red Headed Ash Borer are:

  • Red-colored head and thorax
  • Horizontal markings on wings
  • Long legs

Based on the given information, a comparison table highlighting some key features of the Red Headed Ash Borer is provided below:

FeatureRed Headed Ash Borer
Scientific NameNeoclytus acuminatus
OrderColeoptera
FamilyCerambycidae
Size1/2 to 5/8 inch long
Head and Thorax ColorReddish
Wing ColorDark with horizontal bands
LegsLong

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Eggs and Larvae

  • Redheaded ash borers lay eggs beneath tree bark.
  • Larvae feed under the bark and tunnel into the sapwood.

The redheaded ash borer’s life cycle begins with the female adult beetle laying eggs beneath the bark of dead or unseasoned wood. These eggs hatch into larvae, which feed on the tree’s soft layer just beneath the bark. As these larvae grow, they begin to tunnel into the sapwood, often turning it into powder in the process1.

Pupal Stage

  • Pupae overwinter in tree trunks.
  • Adult beetles emerge from pupae in early spring.

The larvae then move on to the pupal stage, during which they overwinter in the trunk of infested trees2. This stage allows the insect to survive through cold conditions until the next spring, when the adult beetles emerge and the cycle repeats.

Adults

FeatureRedheaded ash borer adults
LifespanMales: 13 days, Females: 21-22 days
FeedingAsh foliage
MatingAfter several days of feeding

Adult redheaded ash borers feed on ash tree foliage for a few days after they emerge3. Once they have consumed enough nutrients, the adults begin to mate, with males living for an average of 13 days and females living for 21-22 days3. The females then lay their eggs, starting the life cycle anew3.

The redheaded ash borer may have two or three generations per year2, which can speed up the spread of these beetles and cause damage to trees more rapidly.

Host Plants and Habitats

Preferred Tree Species

The Red Headed Ash Borer (Neoclytus acuminatus) mainly targets:

  • Ash
  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Hackberry
  • Persimmon

These are their preferred host plants, with ash being its primary target1.

Damage to Hardwoods

The borer’s larvae damage hardwoods by:

  • Tunneling into inner bark and sapwood2
  • Cutting off sap flow, weakening the tree
  • Creating horizontal and vertical burrows in trunks3

This can cause breakage in young trees, affecting both their health and appearance.

Commonly Infested Areas

Generally, Red Headed Ash Borers infest:

  • Dead or dying hardwood trees
  • Newly planted living trees
  • Felled logs with bark intact4

Established trees are less likely to be infested by these borers.

Comparing Tree Species Prone to Red Headed Ash Borer

Tree SpeciesSusceptibility to Red Headed Ash Borer
AshHigh
OakHigh
HickoryHigh
HackberryHigh
PersimmonHigh
MapleLow
ElmLow

Signs of Infestation and Damage

Visible Symptoms on Trees

Red-headed ash borers can infest and damage a variety of hardwood trees. Some common symptoms include:

  • Wilted leaves
  • Branch breakage
  • Discolored bark

These symptoms should not be ignored as they may indicate a more severe infestation.

Crevices and Exit Holes

A major sign of red-headed ash borer infestation is the presence of crevices and exit holes on the tree trunk. These holes are usually:

  • Small and round (about ⅛ inch in diameter)
  • Found in clusters on bark

Exit holes indicate that the adult beetles have emerged from the tree after completing their larval stage.

Frass and Powder

Another sign of red-headed ash borer infestation is the presence of frass (insect waste) and sawdust-like powder. This is produced by the larvae as they tunnel inside the tree, and may be found:

  • Near the base of the tree
  • Around crevices and exit holes

Keep an eye out for these signs to identify and manage red-headed ash borer infestations early.

Prevention and Control Measures

Treatment Methods

  • Permethrin: One effective treatment for redheaded ash borers is using permethrin, which can control the pest by killing the larvae.
    • Pros: Efficient at controlling infestations, relatively low toxicity compared to other insecticides
    • Cons: May harm non-target insects
  • Systemic Insecticides: Another method to control emerald ash borer (EAB), a similar wood-boring beetle, is to use systemic insecticides that move within the tree to protect it.
    • Pros: Provides comprehensive protection, can be used as a preventative measure
    • Cons: May require professional application, may pose environmental concerns
Treatment MethodProsCons
PermethrinEfficient, relatively low toxicityMay harm non-target insects
Systemic InsecticidesComprehensive protection, preventive useMay require professional application, environmental concerns

Protecting Healthy Trees

  • Watering: Proper watering can help keep trees healthy and resist infestations. Drought-stressed trees are more susceptible to attack by the redheaded ash borer.
  • Nursery Stock: Choose healthy trees when planting, as weak or damaged trees may be more prone to infestations.

Proper Tree Care

  • Downed Timber: Remove downed timber from the area to reduce potential habitats for the beetle.
  • Firewood: Avoid storing unseasoned logs or firewood near healthy trees to prevent the spread of the borer.
  • Mulch: Use mulch to help retain soil moisture and maintain healthy tree conditions.

Red Headed Ash Borer vs. Other Borers

Emerald Ash Borer Comparison

  • Red Headed Ash Borer (RHAB) is a slender beetle with reddish head and thorax, while Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has a bright metallic green color and is more robust in shape. EAB is highly destructive to ash trees, while RHAB infests various hardwood trees.
  • Larvae stage: EAB grubs are flat, segmented, and have a creamy-white color, whereas RHAB larvae, known as legless grubs, are pale brown and have a distinct reddish head.
  • Both species tunnel beneath the bark, but RHAB larvae extend their feeding into the sapwood, while EAB larvae mainly feed in the phloem and outer sapwood.

Banded Ash Borer Comparison

  • Banded Ash Borer is another wood-boring beetle, with a cylindrical body, dark antennae, and distinct yellowish-white bands on its body.
  • RHAB and Banded Ash Borer larvae share some similarities as both are legless grubs, but the Banded Ash Borer grubs are usually larger than those of RHAB.
  • Banded Ash Borer infestations are typically less damaging to trees compared to RHAB and EAB, and they usually attack dying or weakened trees.

Flatheaded Appletree Borer Comparison

FeatureRed Headed Ash BorerFlatheaded Appletree Borer
FamilyLong-horned Beetles (Cerambycidae)Metallic Wood-Boring Beetles (Buprestidae)
Larvae AppearancePale brown with a reddish headCreamy white, wider at body’s front
Infested TreesVarious hardwoods, including ashFruit and nut trees, such as apple and oak
Adult Beetle Length1/2 to 5/8 inchUp to 1/2 inch

As seen in the table, RHAB and Flatheaded Appletree Borer belong to different beetle families. They may share some similarities, such as attacking stressed or damaged trees, but infestation signs and characteristics are different. The grubs’ body shapes differ, with Flatheaded Appletree Borer larvae showing a wider front portion, while RHAB larvae have a distinct reddish head and a more uniform body width.

Range and Distribution

Geographical Spread

The Redheaded Ash Borer (Neoclytus acuminatus) can be found across North America, breeding in a variety of hardwood trees:

  • Newly planted living trees
  • Dying or dead trees
  • Felled logs with bark intact1

Adults typically emerge in early spring and lay eggs beneath the bark of dead, unseasoned wood2.

Impact on U.S. Regions

Redheaded Ash Borers are widely distributed across the U.S., feeding primarily on hardwoods such as:

  • Ash
  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Persimmon
  • Hackberry3

Their larvae aid decomposition processes and enrich the soil. However, they can cause damage to felled wood and affect the value of timber3.

Current Information

Insects and trees involved:

  • Redheaded Ash Borer: Primarily encountered in hardwood trees1
  • Emerald Ash Borer: Distinct species affecting ash trees4

Seasonal activity:

  • Emergence: Early spring2
  • Generations per year: Two or three2

Distribution:

  • Widely distributed across U.S. regions
  • Contributes to decomposition and soil enrichment3

Impact on U.S. regions:

  • Favors various hardwood trees (e.g., ash, oak, hickory)3
  • Damages felled wood, affecting timber value3

Footnotes

  1. Oklahoma State University 2 3 4
  2. NCSU 2 3 4 5 6
  3. Penn State Extension 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
  4. Illinois Extension – UIUC 2

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 – Red Headed Ash Borers in home

Subject: Texas bug ID
Location: San Antonio TX
March 18, 2013 2:33 am
Had a few of these flying insects land on me in the house. Now have found several in hallways. All dead or dying.
They look ”waspish”, but can’t find them anywhere on the web. Since there are so many lately, I am assuming they are nesting somewhere near or in the house. Once identified, can you suggest their habits such that I can determine the best places to look for where they are gathering. Damp places, dry places, high, low, warm, cold etc.. Temperatures in the last week or so have been in the 70’s daytime to somewhere between 45 to 55 evenings.
Signature: Execumahr

Sent a request with 3 photos but the pics were so large (20M each) they took FOREVER to load, so sent a second request with same pics downsized for expediency. Hope that helped.

Red Headed Ash Borers
Red Headed Ash Borers

Dear Execumahr,
Downsizing from 20M to 41K was very dramatic.  We routinely receive 5M images, but perhaps 20M was too much.  These are Red Headed Ash Borers,
Neoclytus acuminatus, and they are not infesting your home.  We suspect they came in with firewood.  That is a common occurence with this species as well as with other species of beetles with wood boring larvae.

Letter 2 – Mating Red Headed Ash Borers

ant like bug with balck and yellow stripes.
August 27, 2009
Ive been living imy my house for over 12 years, and my father recently found these bugs crawling all over the branches he had cut off the tree a few weeks back, that were not there when he cut them off. He has NEVER seen a bug like it.
It looks like a big ant with black and yellow stripes going down its back. I got a close of picture of two, that look like they are mating.
buggedeyed
Lancaster, CA

Mating Red Headed Ash Borers
Mating Red Headed Ash Borers

Dear buggedeyed,
These are mating Red Headed Ash Borers, Neoclytus acuminatus.  The mating pair was probably attracted to the smell of the freshly cut wood.  The larvae bore in ash trees, and according to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on the sapwood of ash and other hardwoods, and even occasionally on vines and shrubs. Larvae are commonly found feeding in downed timber with the bark left on.”

Letter 3 – Red Headed Ash Borer

wingless hornet?
Sun, Jan 25, 2009 at 6:19 AM
recentle, january 2009 i did ground work and constructed a garage now each morning i find a few bugs slow crawling as to a woken slumber on my ceiling. They appear to be a wingless hornet with an ants head.they have 6 legs the front 2 are smaller than the rest .and 2 antenni. i am used to all the mites and chiggers and every other species we have do to our mild winters this is a new one for me. thanks for your help.
unseen species.
SE kansas

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear unseen species,
This is a Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus, a Long Horned Borer Beetle that mimics a wasp as a defense mechanism.  The larvae bore in wood, and it is possible that some of the lumber used in your construction had beetle larvae that eventually metamorphosed and emerged.  The adult beetles have soft flying wings covered by hard elytra, the forewings, and though your specimen appears wingless, it does possess wings and is very capable of flight.  We often receive reports of Red Headed Ash Borers emerging from firewood indoors.

Letter 4 – Red Headed Ash Borer

A Beautiful Beetle that I can’t Identify
April 16, 2010
First spotted this beautiful ‘beetle’ (I think) on the outside of my patio door. He flew away before I got a picture! Hand sketched from memory and searched this website and others for his name but no match was found.
After mowing today (4/16/2010) happened to see another one on my garbage can behind my garage. Captured (him) into a plastic jar and took several close-ups before releasing him UNHARMED. As I let him go near the garbage can I saw another one there at the same place that I captured him (feremones?). Pictures are of the captured one in the plastic jar and the free one on top of (blue) garbage can.
farmer don
Southeast Missouri, Mississippi County

Res Headed Ash Borer

Dear Farmer Don,
You are our kind of guy.  Your beautiful beetle is a Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on the sapwood of ash and other hardwoods, and even occasionally on vines and shrubs. Larvae are commonly found feeding in downed timber with the bark left on.
”  The adults are often attracted to UV lights.

Mr. Marlos,
Thank you so very much for your assistance. It was a tedious process to attempt identification using my dial-up internet connection. Hundreds of pictures of bugs sometimes took hours to load…. so you’ve saved me a lot of time!
Hardly a week goes by on my rural, wooded 2.5 acres without my seeing some new and unusual bug. I often carry a 10x hand lens to take a closer look at their tiny features. Several days ago I discovered evidence of burying beetles in my backyard.. they had almost completely buried a black bird in the soft sand. (The black bird was raiding the nests of ‘my’ songbirds when a .177 caliber pellet ended his nefarious deed!)
Thanks again for your service!
Regards,
Don Laughlin (Not really a farmer!)

Dear Not Really a Farmer Don,
Thanks for the update.  We do not nostalgically remember the days when we had to update our website using dial-up, and we are thankful that we now have high speed cable internet connectivity.  We wish you had sent photos of the Burying Beetles.

Letter 5 – Red Headed Ash Borer

What’s this Wasp-like thing?
January 9, 2010
For the last month or so I’ve been finding these wasp-like insects around my house. It’s dead of winter. It’s freezing outside. An Orkin guy came out and he had no idea what it was, why it was awake, where it was coming from or how it could be stopped! He thought maybe it was an extremely young wasp but really didn’t know. They are awake though just barely. I put one in my freezer to make sure I had one to show the Orkin guy and when I took it out the next day it came back to life. I’m not sure whether or not it’s something I should even be worried about.
Help!
Southern New Jersey

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear Help!,
This beetle is a Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus.  Its coloration does mimic that of a wasp for protection.  If you have firewood in the house, the beetles are probably emerging from the wood pile.  Though the larvae bore in wood, they are not interested in treated wood used in home building or in furniture, so you need not fear that they are infesting the house.  Again, we believe the heat of the home is causing them to emerge from some recently introduced wood supply.  You may read more on BugGuide.

Thank you so much for your quick response.  I am very relieved to find out that they are not wasps, just harmless beetles.  I figured out where they were coming from thanks to your clues, but they were not coming from the typical source you mentioned, not firewood, but instead from a natural wood perch we purchased for our iguana cage.  I can see small holes that look like they were drilled out where the beetles were coming from.  I really thought that they were some kind of bee or wasp since we had also been finding some dead bees in our house in the last few months….
Thanks again for your help.  Your website is very interesting.
Karen

Letter 6 – Red Headed Ash Borer

What is it?
We live in Central East Texas and have found an insect that looks like a cricket, but is striped like a yellow jacket. Any idea what that might be? Thanks,
Christopher Sweet

Hi Christopher,
The Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus, is actually a beetle.

Letter 7 – Red Headed Ash Borers emerge from firewood

Subject: Crawling bug
Location: CT
January 28, 2017 3:09 pm
I recently brought in wood from a wood pile and have found a few of these crawling on my floor. I live in CT
Signature: Freaked out by bugs!

Red-Headed Ash Borer

Dear Freaked Out by Bugs!,
Was the wood by chance Ash?  This appears to be a Red-Headed Ash Borer and according to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on the sapwood of ash and other hardwoods, and even occasionally on vines and shrubs. Larvae are common in downed timber with the bark left on.”  We agree with you that your wood pile is most likely the source of the sighting.  Warm conditions indoors often hastens the metamorphosis process, causing early emergence in the winter.

Thank. You. Yes some of the wood is ash and some still has the bark attached. Are these bugs dangerous?
Julie Gray

Hi again Julie,
Members of this family often have extremely strong mandibles that they use to chew their way to the surface after metamorphosis and large members of the family, especially those Prionids in the subfamily Prioninae may draw blood if they bite someone who carelessly handles them.  Red-Headed Ash Borers might produce a pinching bite, but we doubt they can draw blood.  In our assessment, they are not dangerous.

Letter 8 – Red Headed Ash Borer

What bug is this?
May 28, 2009
Had a few people look at this, yet nobody could identify it properly. The common consensus is that it looks like some kind of wasp. But I’m unable to locate anything like it with numerous google searches. I’m hoping you can enlighten me.
Thank you!
Marcus J
Northern Utah, USA

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

Hi Marcus,
This is a Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus.  It is commonly believed that is mimics wasps for protection.  Read more about the Red Headed Ash Borer on BugGuide.

Letter 9 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Can you help me identify this bug?
Hello!
My sister in law lives here in League City Texas nearby and has these bugs coming into her house. I am normally pretty good at identifying bugs but this one has me stumped…?? Can you help? Thank you in advance,
Shannon Clement
League City Texas

Hi Shannon,
Your beetle, a Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus, is a very effective wasp mimic. They are probably emerging from firewood.

Letter 10 – Red Headed Ash Borer

do you know?
Hi,
Love your site! I could browse for hours. My Dad and I found this bug on some firewood logs. It was running all over the log so quickly we could hardly keep up. When we tried to catch it, it flew away kinda clumsy. Hope you can help. Thanks,
Leland

Hi Leland,
Though it is a beetle, the Red Headed Ash Borer is considered a mimic of a stinging wasp because of its protective warning coloration and markings and its behavior. The species is Neoclytus acuminatus.

Letter 11 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Really hoping you can help me figure out what this bothersome little fella is
Bugman-
I first noticed this little fella in my garage about four days ago. At first it was only one. Thinking it was a hornet of some type I squished it and went on my merry way. Next day there were three when i went in. By today, my entire garage is infested with them. I tried looking him up on wasp and hornet sites because he looks to have a stinger as you can hopefully see in one of the pictures I sent you. The closest I could see him resembling was the European hornet, but he’s not fuzzy and doesn’t seem as big as the ones in the pictures I’ve seen. I’m not sure if i should be looking for a nest or if i should just bomb the garage as suggested by my father. The sites that I looked at said bombing would do no good if it is a hornet….that I had to find the nest. Any help you could offer me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Laurie Doyle
Racine, WI

Hi Laurie,
You don’t have a hornet, but a beetle that mimics a hornet. More specifically, it is the Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus, one of the Cerambycidae Family of Long Horned Borer Beetles. This is one of the most common of the wood-borers. The larvae live in unseasoned material with the bark left on. Nearly all the hardwoods are attacked, but chiefly ash, oak, and hickory. You shouldn’t be looking for a nest, but perhaps a firewood pile.

Letter 12 – Red Headed Ash Borer


Hello, and just have to say; Great site, I check it nearly every day. I am in Grapevine Texas, near Dallas. This guy got inside and was lucky I found him before he became carnage. I got these pictures of him before setting him free outside. I did not see the wings until it took off at a slow drift. I work in an atrium, and would like to know what this critter eats, hopefully not my plants!
Robert

Hi Robert,
We believe this is a Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus. They fly from March to October and are often attracted to lights. Larvae feed on the sapwood of ash and other hardwood trees.

Letter 13 – Red Headed Ash Borer

help identify please
Hi,
I live in southeast Pa. I’m moving a wood pile from a couple of trees I had removed and these bugs are all in the pile. Should I worry about getting stung or not and what the heck is it. It looks lighting bug/weevle ish with stripes on the wings and body.
Thanks
Matt McTague

Hi Matt,
The coloration, markings and movements of the Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus, seem to mimic the coloration and behavior of stinging wasps, hence your concerns. The beetles will not harm you but the larvae do bore into felled trees with the bark left on. More seriously, the larvae bore into the sapwood of ash and other hardwood trees.

Letter 14 – Red Headed Ash Borer

What is this? (pic attached)
Hi,
I found this bug in my house in Coopersburg, PA. I’ve never seen one before — I don’t know if it is anything unusual. I simply put it outside after I took a few pics. It was very docile, as if it was asleep or something (but it was clearly still alive). Thanks,
Robert Thornburg

Hi Robert,
This is a Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus. Flying adults are attracted to lights, which probably explains why it was in your house.

Letter 15 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Yellow / black stripes , cricket legs, no wings, 2 segments
I live in Florida panhandle. It doesn’t appear to have wings. Oddly this is the second bug I found in the same exact location (both flushed). It is on a window blind making it maybe 1/2 inch long. Mainly want to make sure my kids are safe. Thank you.
Chris

Hi Chris,
This Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus, will not harm your children.

Letter 16 – Red Headed Ash Borer

What’s this bug?
Location:  Southwest, OH
September 16, 2010 6:54 pm
Sept. 16, 2010
We found this bug today out on one of our trees and can’t figure out what it is. We would appreciate any help in identifying our mystery bug! Thanks!
Signature:  Leah R.

Red Headed Ash Borer

Hi Leah,
In its coloration, markings and behavior, the harmless Red Headed Ash Borer mimics certain wasps to help protect it from predators.

Letter 17 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Bee Beetle
Location: West Valley City, UT
February 7, 2011 1:06 pm
My preschool children found this in our classroom in West Valley City Utah. They thought it was a bee. Can you please help us identify it. Thank you
Signature: Valerie Martinson

Red Headed Ash Borer

Hi Valerie,
Do you have a supply of firewood in the classroom?  Generally, when we get a report of a Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, that is found indoors in the winter, it is because it has metamorphosed early because of warmer indoor temperatures.  According to BugGuide:  “It overwinters in the trunk of infested trees, probably in the pupal stage. The adult emerges in early spring and lays eggs under the bark of recently dead trees.”  It is believed that this species mimics stinging wasps as a means of self preservation.

Letter 18 – Red Headed Ash Borer

What is this bug
Location: Salt lake city ut
February 21, 2011 9:59 pm
Tell me what this bug is thay have just started apering around my house
Signature: Just want to know what kind of bug it is

Red Headed Ash Borer

This is a Red Headed Ash Borer.

Letter 19 – Red Headed Ash Borer

odd bug
Location: Central Arkansas
April 7, 2011 6:05 pm
I was sitting on my carport smoking a cigarette when I looked over at my wood pile and noticed a large number of bugs that I have never seen before crawling and mating all over the wood. I’ve been looking at different forums but I can’t find it. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Signature: -Matt from Ar

Red Headed Ash Borer

Hi Matt,
This is either a Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, or a very closely related species.

I do believe it is a Red Headed Ash Borer. I finally found one online last night. I very much appreciate your response though. Thank you.

Letter 20 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Mystery beetle …  possibly
Location: Fayetteville, NC
April 15, 2011 3:32 pm
Hi Bugman!!
I LOVE your site and use it to identify what seems to be a never ending list of bugs I find in my garden in North Carolina. Today I came across this guy, while out gardening around 3pm, and cannot figure out what ’he’ is. It seemed to fly past me and land in an empty dog bowl where it has been resting ever since. We live in Fayetteville, NC and it is in the upper 70’s today if that helps.
Any help would be much appreciated!
Signature: Laurel Hurley

Follow up/Additional info for mystery beetle…possibly
Location: Fayetteville, NC
April 15, 2011 4:13 pm
Hi Bugman!
I just went back out to check on my little friend and he is actually stuck in the bowl. No wings on this guy and he is only about an inch long. He could have fallen from the loblolly pines in the yard, if not I have no clue why he was airborne. Thought I would add that info in case you do look into my mystery.
Thanks!
Signature: Laurel Hurley

Red Headed Ash Borer

Hi Laurel,
This is a Red Headed Ash Borer or a closely related species in the Long Horned Borer Beetle family Cerambycidae.  This species does actually have wings, but the soft flying wings are concealed under the hard wing covers known as the elytra.  The Red Headed Ash Borer is a wasp mimic, and many predators will not bother them after mistaking them for a stinging insect.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for the identification!!! I actually thought it was a wasp at first since I had encountered a few actual wasps earlier in the day. At first glance it really does mimic well, insect evolution is so interesting.
Again, thank you for your time and knowledge!
Laurel

Letter 21 – Red Headed Ash Borer

bugs on my wood pile
Location: new london wi.
July 9, 2011 1:57 pm
hi..i just got my load of fire wood and i have these bugs that came with the load…i have never seen these before and i am not sure what they are.
Signature: Dave Nelson

Red Headed Ash Borer

Hi Dave,
You have Red Headed Ash Borers,
Neoclytus acuminatus, emerging from your firewood.  The larvae are wood borers.  There are many insects that have larvae that are wood borers, and one of the dangers of transporting firewood great distances is the potential to introduce species to the area that are not indigenous.  Red Headed Ash Borers are very effective wasp mimics.

Letter 22 – Red Headed Ash Borer

never seen before
Location: Texas
April 8, 2012 10:17 am
we had a friend bring us some wood he cut on his property in Quitman TX in the area of Lake Fork. He brought it to us in the Dallas TX area and we noticed about 3 weeks after that the the wood had all these bugs swarming all over it. we have never seen anything like this before and can not find anything like it on the site hope you can help we would like to get rid of it but are afreaid to move it as we don’t know if these are dangerous. also this pile of wood is not next to the house but is next to our WOOD fence and do not know if these feed off the wood or not.
Signature: James

Red Headed Ash Borer

Hi James,
Transporting wood that contains the larvae or pupae of insects is one of the most common methods that human beings can facilitate the range expansion of insect species that bore in wood.  This is a Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, and according to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on the sapwood of ash and other hardwoods, and even occasionally on vines and shrubs. Larvae are common in downed timber with the bark left on.”  Your wood fence would not be an attractive food source for a new generation, but living trees, especially older trees that may already have been weakened by disease or injury are a likely location for laying eggs.

Letter 23 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Subject: What is this bug??
Location: Palmdale, California
July 27, 2013 12:06 am
Hello,
We live in the southern desert of California. It has been over 100 degrees Fahrenheit recently with a couple thunderstorms and even flash floods the past few days; so it’s been humid. We’ve been finding many strange bugs, but we can’t identify this one! There were two that we saw, about the sign of a nickel. Yellow and dark brown/black. I think they can fly. Any help appreciated as this we found them in a spot where my young daughter likes to play. Thank you!!!!!
Signature: Thanks for your time!

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

This is a Red Headed Ash Borer, Neoclytus acuminatus, and you may read more about them on BugGuide.  Red Headed Ash Borers are not dangerous to humans, however, like other members of the Longhorned Borer Beetle family Cerambycidae, they have strong mandibles and they might give a painful nip that could cause a young child to cry.

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much! That’s definitely it and makes sense because we have planted some ash trees. 🙂
Have a great weekend!!!

Letter 24 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Subject: Stripes & only 4 legs – what is it?
Location: South Orange, NJ
March 30, 2014 12:08 pm
Just found this guy crawling up my LR window & escorted him (or her) outside. The torso is about 1″.
Haven’t seen this before. Any idea what it is?
Signature: Thanks! Lory

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear Lory,
This is a Red Headed Ash Borer, a beetle with a larva that bores in the wood of ash and other trees.  When we get reports of Red Headed Ash Borers indoors, especially in the winter, we ask if the querant has firewood indoors, as the adults will emerge prematurely from the wood infested with larvae if the indoor temperatures expedite the maturing process.
  Red Headed Ash Borer have six legs like other insects, and you can see a fifth leg on the left side of your image near the head.  The sixth leg might be missing or just hidden from view.  Red Headed Ash Borers are thought to mimic stinging wasps as a form of protective mimicry since the beetles do not sting.

Letter 25 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Subject: Possible wasp mimicking grasshopper
Location: Sacramento, CA
April 18, 2015 7:55 pm
My wife saw this out with the kids. It’s springtime here in Sacramento. She said it looked like a grasshopper, but had a sharp looking abdomen that looked a like a stinger. She didn’t think it was a wasp. She did say it was capable of flight, so she couldn’t get any closer to the insect before it flew off.
I’m an avid bug hunter, but I’m new to this area. We keep finding new and different insects that keep stumping me.
Signature: Stumped bug guy

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear Stumped bug guy,
This Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, is actually a beetle that mimics a wasp.

Letter 26 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Subject: striped cricket looking thinf
Location: grand rapids, mi
June 8, 2015 3:43 pm
These little guys are pouring out of my garden fence lately. The fence itself was constructed out of fallen limbs and branches and had spent several months drying out. Clearly its the perfect home for whatever these things are… If nothing else they are interesting to look at.
Signature: dave

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear Dave,
Was your fence by chance made of ash?  This is a Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, and according to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on the sapwood of ash and other hardwoods, and even occasionally on vines and shrubs(2). Larvae are common in downed timber with the bark left on.  Life Cycle Overwinters in infested tree trunks, probably as pupae; adults emerge in early spring and lay eggs under bark of recently dead trees.”

Letter 27 – Bug of the Month March 2019: Red Headed Ash Borer

Ed. Note:  March 3, 2019
After posting this submission, we realized we had not yet selected a Bug of the Month for March, and since Red Headed Ash Borers are prone to emerging from firewood indoors while winter weather is still prevalent, we thought it would be an appropriate selection for March 2019

Subject:  Brown and Yellow
Geographic location of the bug:  Northwest Ohio
Date: 02/27/2019
Time: 11:55 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there Bugman, it’s been a little while! I found this small six legged creature in my bedroom and would like to know what it is!
How you want your letter signed:  Hanna B.

Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear Hanna,
Do you store firewood indoors?  This looks to us like a Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, or another member of the genus.  According to BugGuide:  “Overwinters in infested tree trunks, probably as pupae; adults emerge in early spring and lay eggs under bark of recently dead trees” and “Larvae are common in downed timber with the bark left on.”  When firewood infested with larvae is brought indoors, the heat causes the adults to emerge early.  Many members of the family Cerambycidae have markings and coloration that mimic stinging insects like like this Paper Wasp.

Thank you!! I have several houseplants and a lot of driftwood. Perhaps it hatched from one of my pieces! It is still buzzing around in my house and it is still too cold to just put it outside, but there are sources of water in my house and if I keep seeing it, when it gets warmer outside I’ll let it out. I got another, much better picture of it as it perched on my kitten skull display(see attached)
Thanks again for the help!

Red Headed Ash Borer

Hi again Hanna,
Thanks for sending a better image.

Letter 28 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Subject:  What kind of bug is this!?
Geographic location of the bug:  Nebraska
Date: 07/24/2019
Time: 06:48 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was just curious as to what kind of insect this is?  I live in Plattsmouth, Nebraska.  Never saw onelike this or don’tremember seeing one like this.  Youll see it better with zoom.
How you want your letter signed:  Brandon

Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear Brandon,
The Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, is a beetle that benefits from protective mimicry because it looks and acts like a stinging wasp.

Letter 29 – Red Headed Ash Borer

Subject:  Fast on foot and flies
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern TN, US
Date: 06/21/2020
Time: 12:33 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi!  Since moving to Eastern TN, we’ve found our new home to be teeming with all sorts of life.  Here is one that stood out and which I could not identify.  Maybe you can?
How you want your letter signed:  Keith

Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear Keith,
This is a Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, or a closely related species of Longhorned Borer Beetle.  All indications are that the color, markings and behavior of the Red Headed Ash Borer mimic that of a stinging wasp, which protects the harmless beetle from potential predators.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on the sapwood of ash and other hardwoods, and even occasionally on vines and shrubs. Larvae are common in downed timber with the bark left on.”

Letter 30 – Red Headed Ash Borer emerges from shelf

Subject: Flying wasp like inspect?
Location: Northern New Jersey,
March 8, 2016 7:37 pm
For the past week I been seeing a few of these in my house , only in the living room. I have no idea how they keep getting in since i have windows closed and new windows put in few months ago.
I did redo my roof couple of days ago so I thought I disturbed them and they kept getting in somehow. They resemble wasps.
But after research I think they might be a wasp or a Red Headed Ash Borer. I also recently got a raw edge shelf our of my mill in my living room. I sealed it with lacquer and stain twice but maybe they keep getting out? If it is the beetle, any way I can keep my shelf and somehow exterminate them out of there? ( I paid $350 for this stupid shelf! ) :/
Thank You for all your help!!
Signature: Confused By Bug

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

This is either a Red Headed Ash Borer or a closely related species of Long Horned Borer Beetle.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on the sapwood of ash and other hardwoods, and even occasionally on vines and shrubs. Larvae are common in downed timber with the bark left on.”  They may have emerged from firewood you have in the home.  If that is not the case, your rustic shelf is most likely the source.

Rustic Shelf might be responsible for Red Headed Ash Borers
Rustic Shelf might be responsible for Red Headed Ash Borers
Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

Letter 31 – Red Headed Ash Borers

jon krugers bugs
hey i was wondering if you can tell me what kind of bugs are these? they are living in my friends house and she wants them gone but has never seen them befor and wants to know what they are first and what they do if any damage to a house can be done… i know they have 6 legs, they have wings, have what look like pinchers on the front of their faces ,and the rear legs are hinged like a cricket. they dont seem to like the cold as they curle up when put into the snow and they like it warm as they move pretty fast when next to a heater vent…. any clues would be greatly appreciated… thanks
jon kruege

Hi Jon,
These are Red Headed Ash Borers, Neoclytus acuminatus. The beetle larvae bore in the wood of ash and other hardwoods. It is our guess that perhaps they emerged from firewood or some new piece of furniture made from infested wood. They will not harm your friend’s home. The larvae were living in the wood at the time the tree was cut.

Letter 32 – Red Headed Ash Borers disrupt classroom

Subject: Hymenoptera (?) in Classroom
Location: Seattle, WA
April 20, 2015 5:07 pm
A bunch of insects that look like hymenoptera have been congregating in my classroom recently, beginning when the weather got warmer. They are especially in one area of the room that has some natural wood (untreated branches, trunks, etc.) that included as accent decorations of a loft. Some have long antennae and others have short. They have very long hind legs. Their bodies are a rusty brown color with a couple yellow stripes. Their wings are the same rusty color. The wing covers brown with three yellow stripes. I’m a science teacher and love bugs, but need to know if these are potentially harmful to either my students or the physical structure of my classroom. They have so far not shown any aggression, but occasionally do fly and land on students, which distracts from the lessons and scares some students since I cannot confidently assure students they are harmless.
Any pointers would be helpful. Thanks!
Signature: Zoe

Red Headed Ash Borer
Red Headed Ash Borer

Dear Zoe,
This is a Red Headed Ash Borer,
Neoclytus acuminatus, or some other closely related member of the genus.  The appearance of these beetles is most likely connected to the wood you mentioned.  Though it is a beetle, the Red Headed Ash Borer is an effective wasp mimic.

Thanks so much! I’m glad it’s not harmful for my students and it’ll be a good science lesson to incorporate too!
Zoë

Authors

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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13 Comments. Leave new

  • we have been finding red headed ash borer in our house and we have lived in this house from three years and we just started to see them, so I found this site and am just wondering what to do with them and get rid of them?

    Reply
    • They might have come in with firewood. They won’t infest the wood in your home or furniture, but they frequently appear when people store firewood in the basement or other location indoors.

      Reply
  • hi , i have a camel like cricket but it has extra limbs and is blind. the extra legs go over the front like feelers and climbs walls. it is fuzzy and pink. no i havent been drinking…. i wish i have a piture but it has gone back into the wall. freaked out cause never seen it before. from the head back it look normal four legs on each side, with the black strips on thorax . the head was pink as well and antenni . 2-4 inches long . just wondering if you would have a clue what it is???
    i live in colorado.

    Reply
  • hi , i have a camel like cricket but it has extra limbs and is blind. the extra legs go over the front like feelers and climbs walls. it is fuzzy and pink. no i havent been drinking…. i wish i have a piture but it has gone back into the wall. freaked out cause never seen it before. from the head back it look normal four legs on each side, with the black strips on thorax . the head was pink as well and antenni . 2-4 inches long . just wondering if you would have a clue what it is???
    i live in colorado.

    Reply
  • Chrissy Walker
    January 16, 2014 6:33 pm

    We just laid an ash floor in our brand new home. It came from a 150 year old tree from my grandpa’s farm. We noticed before we got the wood tongue and grooved that there were these same bugs that had bored and were living in the wood. We sprayed with insecticide assuming that would take care of the problem but now that we are all moved it, we keep finding new bore holes and the little beetles in the home. They are most definitely from the wood and I’m concerned they will be ruining the wood under the surface. I have no idea what to do!

    Reply
  • I cut down an ash tree and the bark fell off . I caught an all red bug that looks like a beetle I am aware of the Emerald Ash borer Beetle but this is all red with 6 legs . Is it destructive ?

    Reply
  • Thank you much for the information. I am in Lancaster, Ca. (right next to Palmdale) and my husband just did a large prune job on our fruitless Mulberry tree. I found several of these beetles climbing on the cut would afterwards. My neighbor has an Ash tree so perhaps that explains them crawling about? Anyway, it’s wonderful to know what they are now and I’ll read all about them on the Bug Guide now. Thanks again!

    Reply
  • Found 3 today in Massachusetts i think its a type of yellow jacket because it doesnt jump and the 2 with it trying to start a hive in my window

    Reply
  • I have these in my home this season. We do have firewood to heat the home. 1st year with these insects tho. How do I get ride of them?

    Reply
  • one landed on my arm while mowing in Kentucky yesterday. Thought it was a type of cricket. Its vibrant colors freaked me out but I just flicked it off.

    Reply

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