Spotted Longhorn Beetle: Friend or Foe?

Not all longhorns are wood eaters; some adult longhorn beetles also feed on flowers, like bees and wasps. The spotted longhorn beetle is one of them.

When it comes to elegant beetles, the Spotted Longhorn is definitely one of the most popular ones that you can come across.

Scientifically known as the Rutpela maculata, this beetle belongs to a species that feed on flowers and is known for its unique appearance.

Today, let us tell you about this elegant member of the beetle family.

Spotted Longhorn Beetle
Source: gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.KCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What Is This Bug?

The longhorn beetle, also called longicorns, is a member of the beetle family. There are 35,000 species of longhorn beetles described in scientific research.

The beetles get their name from their large antennae. These insects often have antennae that are larger than their bodies.

Their bodies are colored in different patterns and spots that can help differentiate one species from another.

What Does It Look Like?

The spotted longhorn beetle derives its name from the typical spots across its body.

They can grow up to 0.5-0.7 inches, with dark-brown heads and abdomen. Their elytra (the hardened endings of the second pair of wings) are yellowish.

There is a pattern of spots or stripes across their bodies. They have long, spiked antennas and live and feed on flowers.

The black and yellow longhorn beetle is more commonly called the Black-spotted longhorn beetle. It looks very much like a wasp.

These beetles use wasp-mimicry as protection against their natural predators. Their bodies give the appearance of the dangerous yellow jackets, whose painful stings are feared by many animals and even humans.

File:Spotted Longhorn (Rutpela maculata), Parc de Woluwé, Brussels (30687039671).jpg
Source: Frank Vassen from Brussels, BelgiumCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Where Is It Found?

The spotted longhorn beetles are abundant in Europe, mainly in the Near East. If you are looking for these beetles, the best idea is to look at the areas of Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Spain, and Slovakia.

Their population will be high in the deciduous areas where they can find longhorn flowers to feed on and live around.

Life Cycle

Spotted Longhorn Beetles have a comparatively long lifecycle that lasts around two to three years.

Majority of their lives are spent in the larval stage, inside rotten wood or dead trees. They are mostly found in deciduous trees like Quercus, Salix, Alnus, and Carpinus, among others.

The adult beetles can be seen during summer, active in the months of May to August. They live only for two to four weeks, laying eggs around hedgerow flowers.

The black-bodied beetles frequent flowers of Apiaceae species, feeding on their nectar and sometimes moving their pollen about as they fly around.

The larvae of these beetles can feed on different kinds of materials, making them polyphagous.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are longhorn beetles harmful?

Spotted longhorn beetles are not poisonous or harmful in any way. They do not cause any trouble for humans since they cannot bite or sting.
Some longhorn beetles such as the asian longhorn beetle are considered pests because they bore tunnels in trees, leaving them hollow.
But in most cases, these insects are not much of a bother.

Are longhorn beetles destructive?

One of the largest long-horned beetles is the Asian longhorned beetle which is considered a destructive creature.
They are wood-boring insects that target maple and pine trees, among other hardwood trees. They can tunnel into their host trees, causing damage to the trees and disrupting nutrition.

How do I identify a longhorn beetle?

As the name suggests, longhorned beetles can be spotted by their large, pointy antenna that can sometimes be longer than their bodies.
There are different patterns for different beetles, depending on what species they belong to.
They can have a yellow body with black spots or white spots on a black body. If you are trying to identify one, look out for the spiny antennae.

How do you get rid of long-horned beetles?

Most types of longhorn beetles are not very harmful to trees or other creatures.
However, certain large species of beetles that can drill into hardwood trees can damage a tree from the inside out.
One effective way to get rid of these insects is to remove the tree or cut out the part that has been damaged.

Wrap Up

Spotted long-horned beetles are some of the most beautiful insects you can find sitting on flowers.

These creatures are not very difficult in deciduous forests around Europe.

And since they are not harmful in any way, you can easily enjoy their silent company, admiring the beauty of nature for a moment.

Thank you for reading! 

Reader Emails

Over the years, many of our readers have sent in photographs of spotted longhorns, asking us to identify them.

Sample some of the pics and descriptions below.

Letter 1 – Spotted Longhorn from UK

 

Unidentified Insect
Location: South East Wales, UK
June 2, 2011 6:22 am
I found this insect in the garden today in Wales (2nd June 2011).
Can you please identify it for me?
Signature: Thank you very much.

Leptura maculata, the Spotted Longhorn

In anticipation of a short trip away from the office, we are preparing a series of images to post in our absence.  Your letter will go live next week.  This is a Longhorn Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, sometimes called the Longicorn Beetles, and we are nearly certain it is Leptura maculata, which we initially identified on the Garden Safari website and verified on the BioLib website where it is called the Spotted Longhorn.

Letter 2 – Spotted Longhorn from France

 

What is this bug?
Location: Ile de France, France
October 22, 2011 10:31 am
Hello,
I took this picture in july in a meadow and I have yet to figure out what it is.
Thank’s in advance!
Signature: NK

Spotted Longhorn

Dear NK,
This is one of the Longhorned Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae, commonly called Bycids among entomophiles.  We believe it is one of the Flower Longhorns in the subfamily Lepturinae.  We hadn’t much hope that we would be able to come up with a species for you, but as luck would have it, we believe we have correctly identified your beetle as
Leptura (or the anagrammatical Rutpela) maculata based on this image from the Worldwide Cerambycidae Photo Gallery.  According to BioLib, the species is called the Spotted Longhorn.

Letter 1 – Spotted Longhorn from UK

 

Unidentified Insect
Location: South East Wales, UK
June 2, 2011 6:22 am
I found this insect in the garden today in Wales (2nd June 2011).
Can you please identify it for me?
Signature: Thank you very much.

Leptura maculata, the Spotted Longhorn

In anticipation of a short trip away from the office, we are preparing a series of images to post in our absence.  Your letter will go live next week.  This is a Longhorn Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, sometimes called the Longicorn Beetles, and we are nearly certain it is Leptura maculata, which we initially identified on the Garden Safari website and verified on the BioLib website where it is called the Spotted Longhorn.

Letter 2 – Spotted Longhorn from France

 

What is this bug?
Location: Ile de France, France
October 22, 2011 10:31 am
Hello,
I took this picture in july in a meadow and I have yet to figure out what it is.
Thank’s in advance!
Signature: NK

Spotted Longhorn

Dear NK,
This is one of the Longhorned Borer Beetles in the family Cerambycidae, commonly called Bycids among entomophiles.  We believe it is one of the Flower Longhorns in the subfamily Lepturinae.  We hadn’t much hope that we would be able to come up with a species for you, but as luck would have it, we believe we have correctly identified your beetle as
Leptura (or the anagrammatical Rutpela) maculata based on this image from the Worldwide Cerambycidae Photo Gallery.  According to BioLib, the species is called the Spotted Longhorn.

2 thoughts on “Spotted Longhorn Beetle: Friend or Foe?”

  1. Thank you for the quick anser on this little guy! I am new to this site (found it through the book) and I think I like it very much already!

    Reply

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