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.

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 – Poinciana Longicorn from Australia

 

Subject: Poinciana Longicorn Agrianome Spinicollis Location: Bobbin Head National Park Sydney NSW January 12, 2013 5:30 pm Can you confirm my identification of this beetle I found? I used your website to make the identification and google images. Thank you. Signature: Warm regards
Poinciana Longicorn
We agree that this is a Poinciana Longicorn, and the Queensland Museum website has this to say about it:  “This species is found in rainforest and open forest in eastern Australia. It is common in Queensland and New South Wales and also occurs on Lord Howe Island. The larvae are huge white grubs found in rotten wood, especially dead Poinciana or fig trees. It is an important pest of pecan trees. The large adults sometimes blunder into house lights.”

Letter 2 – Unknown Longhorned Orthopteran from Dominican Republic

 

Subject: Domincan Bug Location: Samana, Dominican Republic February 7, 2013 5:05 am Hi there. I ran into this bug hanging out at the Bahia Principe Caylo Levantado Resort in Samana, Dominican Republic. It was the only one I saw. Its antennae hung down about 12 inches from the body. It looked like it had wings, but I’m not sure. Signature: Lynette in Canada
Longhorned Orthopteran
Hi Lynette, This is a member of the order Orthoptera that contains Grasshoppers, Crickets and Katydids.  Much of the insect’s body is concealed by the foliage, and we wish more was showing.  The long antennae indicates it is in the suborder Ensifera, the Longhorned Orthopterans, so that would exclude the Grasshoppers.  We will send the image to Piotr Naskrecki, a Katydid specialist, to see if he recognizes it.

Letter 3 – Unknown Beautiful Bycid from Costa Rica: Oedudes species

 

Subject: red beetle Location: costa rica March 25, 2013 12:19 pm can you help me with the determination of this red one? thanks a lot Signature: fred from belgium
Unknown Longhorned Borer Beetle
Longhorned Borer Beetle is Oedudes species
Hi Fred, This is such a beautiful Bycid, or Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, and we thought it would be easy to identify.  We are troubled that we were not able to find a match on the internet.  Our first lead was this unidentified specimen on Richard Seaman’s FlickR page, but we aren’t even sure they are closely related.  We thought for sure we would be able to identify it on the Cerambycidae de Costa Rica site, but alas, our eyes went blurry we looked at so many photos.  Perhaps eye fatigue caused us to miss it.  Though it looks somewhat similar in markings, the anatomical structural differences don’t quite match on these Crioprosopus nieti we found on the Cerambycidae de Costa Rica site.  The North American Milkweed Borers in the genus Tetraopes that are pictured on BugGuide look very similar in structure and coloration, however the Costa Rican species pictured on the Cerambycidae de Costa Rica site do not look similar.  We hope one of our readers will have better luck with this ID. Update:  Oedudes species We received two comments, one suggesting this might be Oedudes bifasciatus and another suggesting it might be Oedudes callizona.  See photos of Oedudes bifasciatus on The Early Birder, on Project Noah and on FlickR and a photo of Oedudes callizona on Cerambycidae Species. Hi Daniel, I’m a herpetologist amateur. I realise that to determinate bugs is very very difficult! Thanks a lot for the information fred You are most welcome Fred.  Your photos are quite lovely.  We have no scientific background and there are no entomologists on our staff, so any answers we provide should be viewed as questionable rather than conclusive.  

Letter 4 – What Decapitated the Longicorn???? Thus Begins the Speculation of the Meaning of Life as we know it.

 

Subject: Whats this bug? Location: San Diego, CA April 11, 2013 8:12 pm I work as a child care provider and at the play ground a couple of girls ran up to me saying they found a new bug when I went to investigate it indeed was a ”new” bug. It is brown has four legs and very long antena like things. It doesn’t have wings, more like a mix between a spider and an alien. Signature: Bryanna
Head of a Longhorn Borer Beetle
Head of a Longhorn Borer Beetle
Dear Bryanna, This is the head of a Longhorned Borer Beetle or Longicorn in the family Cerambycidae.  We sometimes get images like this and we suspect some predator, perhaps a bird, has eaten the nutritious body of the beetle and left the head and parts of the thorax behind.  We are not certain but we suspect that if the head of a Bycid is eaten, it will continue to chew and those jaws that are able to chew through wood can easily chew through the gut of a bird.  The bird need only eat the head of a Bycid once to learn this lesson. Thus Begins the Speculation of the Meaning of Life as we know it.  

Letter 5 – Wattle Chafer from Australia

 

Subject: Aussietrev Wattle Chafer Location: Queensland, Australia June 27, 2013 6:59 pm Hi guys, seeing some impressive longicorns posted here lately and thought you may like these shots of our Australian Wattle Chafer. This beautiful beetle is one of three similar species that dine on the bark of young wattle trees. Wattles are a member of the legume family and act as a pioneer species helping regeneration in cleared areas. The beetles do little harm and don’t appear to have any long term effect on the tree. I hope I haven’t sent them to you before, senility might be setting in if I have. Signature: aussietrev
Wattle Chafer
Wattle Chafer
Hi Trevor, Thanks for sending us your gorgeous photos of a Wattle Chafer.  We are surmising that these photos were taken during the southern hemisphere summer in December or January.  We have been getting some impressive Longicorn photos, and we expect many more thoughout the summer.  We have always believed that having a bad memory left room for new thoughts.
Wattle Chafer
Wattle Chafer
We were unable to locate any Wattle Chafers so we searched the family Cerambycidae from Australia and found an image of Penthea pardalis on Csiro.  That led us to the Acacia Longicorn on the Brisbane Insect website.  We have always considered Chafers to be Scarabs, not Longicorns. 
Penthea pardalis
Penthea pardalis
 

Letter 6 – Probably Trachyderes succinctus from Virgin Islands

 

Subject: Beetle-like Insect on Rotting Mango Location: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. GPS: 18.345442,-64.896659 June 27, 2013 4:37 pm Dear Bugman: This critter has been bugging me for a number of years. It likes rotting fruit but absolutely loves to go after young corn. It nibbles away at the base of the ear, leaving a blackish goo and killing the ear. It decimated my back yard corn crop a couple of years ago and I have not been able to replant successfully since. What is it and how do I gently dissuade it from nibbling my corn? I naturally manage other creatures by eco balancing the yard, but I have no idea how to deal with this guy. I much prefer not to kill and knowing what it is may help me route its attention elsewhere. Thanks for your help. Signature: KC
Longicorn
Longicorn:  Trachyderes succinctus
Hi KC, This is a Longicorn or Capricorn Beetle in the family Cerambycidae.  We just have time to post it and we will research its species later today.
Longicorn
Longicorn
Thanks to a comment by Cesar Crash who runs Insetologia out of Brazil, we agree that this appears to be  Trachyderes succinctus. Update:  July 21, 2013 Hi, I wanted to thank you and Cesar Crash for the identification of Trachyderes succinctus. I took a couple snapshots of Trachyderes succinctus appearing to mate on corn leaves.They are yours to use, archive, or whatever, as my thank you gift. Karl.
Mating Trachyderes succinctus
Mating Trachyderes succinctus
Hi Karl, We really appreciate the followup photograph and we have added it to your original submission.

Letter 7 – Cerambycid from Canada is Stenocorus schaumii

 

Subject: Beetle Location: yes June 30, 2013 11:04 am I live in Winnipeg Manitoba and I found this Beetle on our garage this morning. I took a snap shot of the insect I haven’t had time to take a proper photo of the insect so far. I used my Nikon D3100 & SB-400 flash with TTL cord & my 40mm f2.8 micro lens. Signature: Normally ?
Longhorned Borer, we believe
Longhorned Borer:  Stenocorus schaumii
Dear Normally ?, We believe this is a Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, but we are not certain.  We base that guess on the width of the elytry at the base as well as the spine on the thorax.  We have not been able to locate a species identification and we hope our readership can assist. Update Thanks to a comment from Mardikavana, we now agree that this looks like the Cerambycid Stenocorus schaumii which is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 8 – Round Headed Apple Borer

 

Subject: stripper bug Location: ha ha tonka state park, missouri July 16, 2013 4:15 pm Never seen Signature: chris
Round Headed Apple Borer
Round Headed Apple Borer
Dear Chris, This is a Round Headed Apple Borer, Saperda candida.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on the wood of apples (Malus) and related trees in the rose family, such as pear (Pyrus), hawthorn (Crataegus), mountain ash (Sorbus) and Saskatoon (Amelanchier). Also: Aronia, Cotoneaster, Cydonia, Prunus. Adults feed on leaves” and “These insects seek out trees which are already weakened due to some other stress. A heavy infestation can kill a tree.”

Letter 9 – Round Headed Apple Tree Borer

 

Subject: Blue Insect Location: Quebec, Canada August 19, 2013 3:45 pm What could this insect be? The body is about 1” long and the photo was taken in western Quebec Canada in early August 2013. Signature: Bruce
Round Headed Apple Tree Borer
Round Headed Apple Tree Borer
Dear Bruce, This is a Round Headed Apple Tree Borer, Saperda candida, and according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs:  “Attacks healthy, living trees, Larvae (grubs) feed on the cambial tissue and heartwood near the base of the tree by boring into the branches and the trunk,  Presence of larvae is indicated by sawdust castings pushed from the tunnel, accumulating on the ground beneath the tunnel entrance,  Girdling of young trees eventually results in a greatly weakened tree, often leading to death.”

Letter 10 – Red Headed Beauty from Texas

 

Subject: Bug inquiry please! Location: Wimberly, Texas September 17, 2013 10:26 pm Hello. My friend found this bug in his horse pen in Wimberly Texas on Sept 18, 2013, probably in the morning about 10 or so. We would just please like to know what it is…anything you can suggest would be helpful and appreciated. 🙂 Thank you Signature: Angela Cox
Red Headed Beauty
Red Headed Beauty
Hi Angela, At first we couldn’t locate this Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae when we searched BugGuide, so we did a web search with some key words and we found a matching image on the Texas Beetle Information site that calls this the Red Headed Beauty, Stenaspis verticalis insignis (Casey), and includes a map with county sightings as well as this taxonomy:  “Family Cerambycidae, Subfamily Cerambycinae, Tribe Trachyderini.”  With that information, we headed back to BugGuide where we also found the Red Headed Beauty pictured with this information:  “Adults strongly attracted to plant exudates.   Larval host unknown, probably utilizes a living host, possibly mesquite or acacia (Dan Heffern, pers. comm.).”  BugGuide also provides this information:  “On October 14, 2005, 2 miles west of Utopia, Uvalde Co., Texas, Mitch Heindel found 5 pairs incopula and a few unattached males on Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens) Anacardiaceae, and a couple of singles on another of the same shrub. Hovore et al. (1987) report aggregations of of this sp., including many mating pairs, on stems of Baccharis in San Patricia Co., TX in October. See also Goldsmith (1989).”  The species is reported from Arizona and Texas as well as Mexico.  The Arizona subspecies lacks the red head.  This is a new species for our site and though the image shows the remarkably striking coloration of the Red Headed Beauty, we wish the photo was more in focus.

Letter 11 – Poinciana Longicorn from Australia

 

Subject: What the bug??? Location: Brisbane, Australia October 10, 2013 3:29 am HI Bugman, Hoping you can help identify this beast we’ve noticed in the last week? Thanks Signature: Meegs
Poinciana Longicorn
Poinciana Longicorn
Dear Meegs, This looks to us like a male Poinciana Longicorn, Agrianome spinicollis, and you can compare your photo to this image on Csiro or the image on Agriculture of Western Australia.  According to the Queensland Government website:  “This species is found in rainforest and open forest in eastern Australia. It is common in Queensland and New South Wales and also occurs on Lord Howe Island. The larvae are huge white grubs found in rotten wood, especially dead Poinciana or fig trees. It is an important pest of pecan trees. The large adults sometimes blunder into house lights.” 

Authors

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  • 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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19 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
  2. I suggest that it is Oedudes callizona (Bates). The only image of that species on the Web that I could find is of the type which is old and faded but the swtructure and color pattern are the same.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the identification. We got a second confirmation from another reader on the genus, but not the species. We will attempt to find a link to the photo.

      Reply
    • Thanks Cesar. We agree the Trachyderes looks correct. Cesar, you should consider never taking anyone out of your site. When you have a link, you need to open in a new window so that your site stays open. That will improve your traffic.
      Daniel

      Reply
  3. Hi there, I do think your website might be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, great site!

    Reply

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