Red Spotted Jewel Beetle: Essential Facts for Enthusiasts

The red spotted jewel beetle is a fascinating and colorful insect that has captured the interest of entomologists and nature enthusiasts alike. Known for their striking red and black spotted pattern, these beetles are not only visually appealing but also vital to their ecosystems, as they play a major role in the natural processes of decomposition and pollination.

Native to various regions across the globe, red spotted jewel beetles inhabit diverse habitats such as forests, meadows, and even suburban gardens. These beetles are relatively harmless to humans and plants, although some related species may cause damage to certain crops. Understanding the intriguing biology and behavior of the red spotted jewel beetle broadens our knowledge of the diverse world of insects and offers a glimpse into the hidden wonders of nature.

Identification and Characteristics of Red Spotted Jewel Beetle

Physical Description

The red spotted jewel beetle (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) is an insect belonging to the order Coleoptera. Its body is divided into three main parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. The thoracic region features a hardened exoskeleton called the pronotum, while the elytra, or wing covers, protect the delicate hindwings used for flight.

  • Head: Small and triangular in shape
  • Thorax: Pronotum covers and protects
  • Abdomen: Contains the wings and other vital organs

Serrate Antennae

An important characteristic of the red spotted jewel beetle is its serrate antennae, which have a saw-like appearance. These antennae allow the beetle to detect various signals in the environment, such as pheromones or the scent of plants.

Example: The serrate antennae of the red spotted jewel beetle help it locate suitable plant hosts for food and reproduction.

Color Variation

Red spotted jewel beetles are known for their striking colors, exhibiting vibrant blue, green, and red spots on a metallic background. These colors not only make them visually appealing but also play a vital role in their survival.

Color Benefit
Blue & Green Camouflage with leaves, helping them blend into nature
Red Spotted Warn predators of their unpalatability, which discourages predation
  • Some variations may lean more towards one color, while others may have a more balanced mix.

In summary, the red spotted jewel beetle possesses unique characteristics, such as its serrate antennae and color variations, that help it thrive in its natural habitat. Short sentences, paragraphs, and bullet points cover essential information about this beautiful insect.

Behavior and Habitat

Nocturnal Behavior

The red spotted jewel beetle exhibits nocturnal behavior, which means it is active at night. This can help them avoid predators and find food.

  • They prefer staying hidden during the day.
  • Nighttime activity aids in mating and foraging.

Vision

  • These beetles have excellent vision during the dark hours.
  • Large, compound eyes enable them to navigate efficiently.

Habitat Requirements

The red spotted jewel beetle thrives in a variety of habitats.

  • Often found residing underground for protection and shelter.
  • They can also be discovered in tree stumps where they lay eggs and find food sources.
Preference Red Spotted Jewel Beetle Other Beetle Species
Activity Time Nocturnal Diurnal or Nocturnal
Primary Habitat Tree Stumps Forests, plants, & decaying materials

In summary, the red spotted jewel beetle is a nighttime-active, adaptable insect with strong vision and diverse habitat preferences such as underground and tree stumps.

Lifecycle and Reproduction

Larval Stage

The larval stage of the red spotted jewel beetle is crucial for its growth and development. These beetle larvae usually hatch from eggs 7 to 10 days after they are laid.

  • Larvae feed: They mainly feed on wood and plant tissues.
  • Insects: The larvae develop into insects through various stages.

Feeding Habits

Red spotted jewel beetle larvae have specific feeding habits that play a critical role in their development.

  • They feed on decaying wood, helping recycle nutrients within the ecosystem.
  • Larvae may also consume small insects, making them beneficial as natural pest control.

Development Process

The development process of the red spotted jewel beetle covers multiple stages.

  1. Egg: Initially, they start as eggs laid by the female beetles.
  2. Larvae: Once hatched, they become larvae feeding and growing within their preferred habitat.
  3. Pupa: After completing the larval stage, they transform into a pupa, resting and developing into adult beetles.
  4. Adult: Once fully developed, adult beetles emerge from their pupal stage, ready to reproduce and lay eggs.
Stages Duration Features
Egg 7-10 days Female beetles lay eggs in suitable environments with abundant food sources.
Larval Stage Varies Larvae feed on wood and other organic materials, growing and shedding their exoskeletons.
Pupal Stage Varies Pupa develops in a resting state, transforming into an adult beetle within.
Adult Several months Adult beetles reproduce and lay eggs to continue the cycle.

By understanding their lifecycle and reproduction patterns, we can appreciate the crucial role red spotted jewel beetles play within their ecosystems.

The Jewel Beetle Family

Overview of Buprestidae

The Buprestidae family, commonly known as jewel beetles, boasts over 15,000 species worldwide. They are well-known for their bright colors and metallic sheen.

Species within the Family

  • Chrysochroa fulgidissima: A species found in Southeast Asia with iridescent blue-green coloration.
  • Castiarina oxleyi: A native Australian species displaying a deep red hue with white spots.
  • Tropical Steraspis squamosa: Exhibits a golden-copper appearance.

Distinctive Physical Traits

  • Size: Typically range between 3 and 100 mm in length.
  • Shape: Elongated, cylindrical bodies with large eyes and antennae.
  • Color: Vibrant, metallic, and iridescent colors.

Comparison between two jewel beetle species:

Chrysochroa fulgidissima Castiarina oxleyi
Color Iridescent blue-green Deep red with white spots
Distribution Southeast Asia Australia
Adult size 20-30 mm 10-15 mm

Ecological Impact

Relation to Other Insects

The Red Spotted Jewel Beetle is a type of beetle that shares some similarities with other insects like ants and cockroaches.

For example:

  • All three belong to the Insecta class
  • They all have exoskeletons and jointed legs

However, they differ in some aspects too. The main differences can be seen in the table below:

Insect Diet Habitat
Red Spotted Jewel Beetle Plant material, including bark and leaves Forests and wooded areas
Ants Omnivorous, including insects and plant material Various habitats, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas
Cockroaches Omnivorous, including human food waste and dead plant material Urban areas, particularly near human food sources

Pest Control

Although beetles can be beneficial to the ecosystem, some species such as emerald ash borer and bark beetles pose a threat to trees and may require control measures. Red Spotted Jewel Beetles, on the other hand, do not generally cause significant damage.

For pest control, using natural predators, such as birds and other insects can be helpful, but chemical treatments are also used in certain situations.

Invasive Species Concerns

Invasive species are a major concern in ecology, as they can compete with native species and alter the ecosystem. The Red Spotted Jewel Beetle is not considered an invasive species. However, other beetle species, such as the emerald ash borer and bark beetles, have caused significant damage in various regions.

In order to mitigate the risks associated with invasive species:

  • Monitor and track their spread
  • Implement preventive measures like quarantine and inspections
  • Use biological controls like introducing predators and parasites to target invasive beetles

Scientific Study and Conservation

National Science Foundation Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded various research projects on red spotted jewel beetles. These studies focus on their fascinating properties, such as coloration and pollination behavior.

Physics of Coloration

The unique coloration in red spotted jewel beetles stems from their microscopic scales. These scales manipulate light in a fascinating way:

  • Iridescence: The shimmering colors result from light interference by microscopic structures on the beetle’s surface.
  • Structural colors: Unlike pigments, these colors do not fade over time due to their physical origin.
Property Red Spotted Jewel Beetle Other Beetles
Iridescence Yes Varies
Structural colors Yes Varies
Fading No Varies

Conservation Efforts

As pollinators, red spotted jewel beetles play an essential role in the ecosystem. Conservation efforts include:

  • Monitoring populations and habitat health
  • Controlling invasive threats
  • Raising awareness through education

Their conservation is crucial to maintain biodiversity and promote the plants they pollinate, such as ancient species like magnolias and spicebush.

Red Spotted Jewel Beetle in Popular Culture

Animal Crossing Series

The red spotted jewel beetle is a fascinating creature that has made its way into the world of Animal Crossing. In the game, the beetle can be found on trees and can be caught by players using a net. Catching these beetles can be a fun and rewarding activity, as they can fetch a good price when sold to the in-game merchants.

  • Found on: Trees
  • Method of capture: Net
  • Selling price: Varies by game

The red spotted jewel beetle’s presence in the Animal Crossing series adds a sense of depth and realism to the game, as these little creatures are known for their beautiful, iridescent colors. Players can enjoy discovering them and adding them to their digital collection or selling them for profit.

Beetle Characteristics Real Life Animal Crossing
Appearance Shiny, metallic Similar
Habitat Trees Trees
Capture Method Hand/net Net

In conclusion, the red spotted jewel beetle is a small yet significant part of the Animal Crossing series. It serves to enrich the game world and give players an engaging activity to engage in, all while showcasing the beauty of these amazing insects.

Conclusion

In summary, the Red Spotted Jewel Beetle is an intriguing species in the insect world. Notable for its vibrant appearance and unique characteristics, it is certainly a subject worth exploring.

  • Features:

    • Bright, metallic colors
    • Active during daytime
    • Attracted to nectar-rich flowers
  • Characteristics:

    • Length: 8-15mm
    • Province: widespread through Eastern Australia
    • Habitat: forests and woodland areas

When studying these beetles, it is essential to consider few aspects that make them stand out amongst other beetles:

Feature Red Spotted Jewel Beetle Other Beetles
Color Metallic and vibrant Dull or plain
Activity Daytime Mainly nocturnal

Despite their dazzling appearance, the Red Spotted Jewel Beetle is not considered an invasive or damaging species. Instead, they play a helpful role in plant pollination and contribute to the ecosystem’s health. Like all living creatures, it is crucial to respect their environment and the role they play in nature.

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 – Mystery solved: Ribbed Pine Borer

 

Camoflaged bug
June 30, 2010
Dear Bugman,
I found this bug crawling around in a ditch, too. It seemed to match the dirt around it. Very slow moving and no larger than an inch long. Any idea what it is? Thanks,
James R
Fairfield, Maine, USA

Ribbed Pine Borer

Hi James,
We do not recognize your beetle, but we are posting your letter and photos while we attempt to identify it.  We are starting with Checkered Beetles in the family Cleridae on BugGuide.

Ribbed Pine Borer

Ed. Note: Thanks to Mardikavana, we now know that this is a Ribbed Pine Borer, Rhagium inquisitor, and it is profiled on BugGuide.

Eric Eaton concurs
Daniel:
Sorry, been out in the field all day (one of the few luxuries of unemployment).
The beetle is the “Ribbed Pine Borer,” Rhagium inquisitor, in the longhorned beetle family Cerambycidae.  I know!  Bears little resemblance to the average ‘bycid!  This species is “holarctic,” meaning it is found in the entire northern hemisphere.
Eric

Letter 2 – Red Legged Buprestis

 

Subject: Jewel Beetle
Location: Augusta, GA, NA
May 21, 2017 3:12 pm
Hello,
Can you tell me what kind of beetle this is and where is it from?
Signature: CJC

Red Legged Buprestis

Dear CJC,
This Jewel Beetle is a Red Legged Buprestis,
Buprestis rufipes.  According to Beetles of Eastern North America:  “Adults are active in spring and summer.  Larvae develop in deciduous hardwoods” including honeylocust, beech, maple, hickory, tulip tree and slippery elm.

Letter 3 – Mating Emerald Ash Borers

 

Emerald Ash Borer
Dear Bugman
Thanks for making Emerald Ash Borer the bug of the month. This will help folks learn more about this pest and maybe discover new sites where it has become established and report them. Attached is an old photo of them mating and a good close up shot. Remember-Don’t Move Infested Wood! Keep up the good work
Brian Sullivan
Plant Health Safeguarding Specialist

Hi again Brian,
Thanks for sending us another wonderful image to better help our readers identify the Emerald Ash Borers.

Letter 4 – Red Legged Buprestis

 

Flat-Headed Wood Borer
Hey Bugman,
I found a specimen of what I believe to be Buprestis rufipes, the Flat-Headed Wood Borer. This guy flew onto my shirt while I was in a park near Olney, Maryland. He is about 3/4 in long, and has spectacular grey, prisim eyes that are not visible in these pictures. Hope this will be a nice addition to your excellent website. From a fellow insect lover,
Drew Villeneuve

Hi Drew,
Thanks for your gorgeous photo of a Red Legged Buprestis.

Letter 5 – Red Legged Buprestis

 

bug
Hello Bugman,
Here is a very colorful bug my friend Mark McCarthy photographed for me in West Virginia, USA. We are wondering if you could help us identify it and post it on whatsthatbug.com . Thank you.
Troy D

Hi Troy,
This is one of the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles, Buprestis rufipes, the Red Legged Buprestis. According to BugGuide, it feeds on maple and birch.

Letter 6 – Red Legged Buprestis

 

metallic borer?
Sat, Dec 6, 2008 at 6:29 AM
Found this beauty on my deck. Think he is dead. Should I worry that he has left behind survivors that are eating my deck? It is pressure treated CCA pine. Thank you
Vicki
Elwood, Kansas

Red Legged Buprestis
Red Legged Buprestis

Buprestis rufipes

Letter 7 – Mediterranean Flathead WoodBorer

 

(10/3/2003) Dear Bugman,
Two weeks ago (Mid September), while in the countryside near the central Italian western coast, this friend flew onto our set and settled in. He moved slowly and wasn’t at all intimidated by our presence, poking or prodding. What is the name of this creature; it looks somehow familiar to me, although this was my first trip to Italy.
Thanks again!
Tomás Arceo

Mediterranean Flathead Woodborer
Mediterranean Flathead Woodborer

Dear Tomás,
I thought your beetle looked like a member of the Metallic Wood Boring Beetle family, Buprestidae, but I am not really familiar with European species. I did a google search on Buprestidae Italy and found the following picture with the scientific name Capnodis tenebrionis.
I did a new google search and found this amazing site that needs to be translated: Your beetle 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.
Thank you for the great photos.

Ed Note: January 13, 2009
We keep finding wonderful postings that got lost in our site migration last September and this is one.

ED. NOTE Correction:  December 31, 2010
We just received a comment from mardikavana identifying this Metallic Borer Beetle as
Capnodis cariosa, a different species in the genus we originally identified in 2003.

Letter 8 – Click Beetle from Utah

 

Subject: Black and Orange Beetle
Location: West Valley City, Utah
May 19, 2012 10:55 am
Found this bug at my preschool in West Valley City Utah and we were wondering what it is. It was about 1/3 in long.
Signature: Head Start Preschool

Click Beetle we believe

Dear Head Start Preschool,
Our first impression was that this might be a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and our second choice would be a Click Beetle in the family Elateridae.  We had no luck identifying as belonging to either Buprestidae or Elateridae on BugGuide.  This identification request requires additional research.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist.

Update:  August 12, 2012
Thanks to a comment from mardikavana, we now know that this Click Beetle is
Ampedus cordifer which we have located on BugGuide.

Letter 9 – Red Legged Buprestis

 

Subject: Beetle?
Location: Pennsylvania
June 28, 2015 1:53 pm
I spotted this what appears to be a form of beetle. I tried looking up the insect, but nothing resembles it’s color pattern. Can you help identify this bug, Thank You.
Signature: Bob

Red Legged Buprestid
Red Legged Buprestid

Dear Bob,
You encountered one of the Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles in the family Buprestidae, the Red Legged Buprestis,
Buprestis rufipes.  The larvae are the stage that bores in wood, and according to BugGuide, the food plants include:  “Acer – Maple, Fagus – Beech, Nyssa sylvatica – Blackgum, Quercus – Oak, Ulmus – Elm.”

Letter 10 – Possibly Flat Headed Poplar Borer

 

Subject: Bug in Minnesota
Location: Boulder Lake – Duluth, MN
June 29, 2015 9:17 am
Hi Bugman,
Ran across this guy late June near Boulder Lake in Duluth, mn. He flies and landed on my leg. Naturally I brushed him off and as I did, he pulled in his legs and played dead and fell to the ground. This is a good shot of the top. He had a little copper color on his belly. Any ideas?
Signature: Catie

Possibly Flathead Poplar Borer
Possibly Flat Headed Poplar Borer

Dear Catie,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and it is a member of the genus
Dicerca, possibly the Flat Headed Poplar Borer.  There is some really nice information on the University of Wisconsin Field Station site.

Letter 11 – Red Legged Buprestis

 

Subject: what’s that bug?
Location: southwest Pennsylvania
July 17, 2015 12:09 pm
I couldn’t find the spot to send a bug to be identified. I have looked in my Audobon guide and on other websites, but couldn’t find it.
Signature: Everett

Red Legged Buprestis
Red Legged Buprestis

Dear Everett,
This gorgeous Jewel Beetle or Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae is a Red Legged Buprestis,
Buprestis rufipes.

Letter 12 – Mating Jewel Beetles in Mount Washington

 

Subject:  Metallic Wood Boring Beetles mating on a native California Black Walnut Branch
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
May 17, 2017 2:33 PM
We just discovered these Metallic Wood Boring Beetles “in flagrante delicto” on a twig of a Calfornia Black Walnut in our office garden.  They have excellent eyesight and moved to avoid the camera.  Interestingly, Charles Hogue does not list any members of the family in his landmark book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin.  We are currently on a mission to attempt to identify the species.

Mating Jewel Beetles:  Dicerca hornii

We have put in a request to Dr Doug Yanega at UC Riverside, but meanwhile, we found this information on Dicerca horni Crotch on the UC Riverside Urban Entomology page:  “This is a common flatheaded borer of the Pacific Coast states. It belongs in a genus of medium-sized buprestids that are characterized by their dull-bronze color and the prolonged tips of the elytra (plate II, 1; figure 126). Dicerca horni is a dark, grayish bronze, 13 to 25 mm long, and has small, black, narrow, broken ridges on the dorsum. The larvae are approximately 2.33 times longer than the adults. This species occurs on many species of deciduous trees (including fruit trees) and shrubs, inhabiting dead or dying trees or dead wood on living trees. Adults may be seen from April to September. This is not a pest, but we receive many requests for its identification.” The species name led to this BugGuide image of Dicerca hornii (BugGuide has added an additional i to the scientific name) and it looks like a match.  There is also a lovely image on CalPhotos.  Our image shows some very pretty magenta highlights on the legs and edges of the thorax.

Confirmation Courtesy of James Hogue
This looks like a good name to me.  I have specimens of this species from the mountain ranges surrounding the L. A. Basin and from the lowlands of the San Fernando Valley.
Jim Hogue

Letter 13 – Red Legged Buprestis

 

Subject: Irridescent spotted beetle?
Location: Bloomington Indiana
July 5, 2017 9:36 am
I found this beautiful, unfortunately deceased, little guy on a concrete block by my house in Indiana on July 4th…I’ve been scouring the Web for similar pix to identify him (her?)…is it Red-legged Buprestis?
Signature: Trackzilla

Red Legged Buprestis

Dear Trackzilla,
You are correct.  This gorgeous Jewel Beetle is commonly called a Red Legged Buprestis.

Letter 14 – Northeastern Sculptured Pine Borer

 

Subject:  Unidentified insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Dummerston, VT
Date: 06/19/2018
Time: 08:50 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Beautiful, motionless, and about an inch and a half long. Who is our dearly departed friend?
How you want your letter signed:  Amara

Northeastern Sculptured Pine Borer

Dear Amara,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle in the family Buprestidae, and family members often have beautiful colors and are called Jewel Beetles.  Your individual is a Sculptured Pine Borer in the genus
Calcophora, most likely the Northeastern Sculptured Pine Borer, Chalcophora liberta, which we identified on BugGuide where it is described as being:  “from brilliant metallic coppery orange to dull black; extremely variable in size, dorsal sculpturing, and density of ventral setae; readily distinguished by truncate or rounded elytral apices, small size, and usually bright metallic, orange-green color.”

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.

5 thoughts on “Red Spotted Jewel Beetle: Essential Facts for Enthusiasts”

  1. I’m almost certain that this is Capnodis cariosa. It is bigger than C. tenebrionis. Has more white colour in elytra and has big three round spots at the basis of protonum. Capnodis tenebrionis has two spots. Sometimes third smaller spots occurs in the middle.

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