Longhorn beetles, especially the Asian ones, are an invasive pest and can create severe economic damage to trees. But can these beetles fly as well? Let’s find out.
The long-horned beetle is a destructive pest that can cause severe damage to trees. That said, you might be curious if these beetles can fly.
Unfortunately, the answer to this is yes. These beetles can move from one tree to another by flying around.
Although Asian long-horned beetles aren’t native to North America, they have grown in numbers and spread, becoming a major nuisance.
What Are Longhorned Beetles?
The term ‘longhorned beetle’ doesn’t refer to any specific pest in particular but an entire family of 35,000 beetle species.
They earn the name from their extremely long antennae, which often grow longer than their bodies.
One of the most common species of longhorned beetle is the Asian Longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), which is black with white spots.
Native to China and Korea, this pest has spread across to other continents too. Although often mistaken to be a Japanese beetle, it is not a part of Japan’s native fauna.
What Damage Do They Do?
The adult females use their ovipositors to lay eggs under the bark of wood. It’s mostly the larvae that cause damage to stems, trunks, and roots.
Known as round-headed borers in the larval stage, they are capable of damaging both living trees and untreated lumber by boring into the wood.
The damage varies from one species to another, but some are particularly destructive. Certain species, like the old-house borer, are also major indoor pests.
These larvae live for two to three years inside the tree, making tunnels that leave the tree a hollow shell of itself.
The Asian Longhorned beetle is capable of laying up to 90 eggs during its lifetime.
Can They Fly?
Yes, this invasive pest is a winged beetle and is capable of flying. On average, they can fly up to 1.4 miles from the tree where they originally emerged.
The stronger ones among them can cover longer distances, especially the older and well-fed adults.
During laboratory tests in controlled environments, some were able to fly as far as 8.5 miles.
Because of its ability to fly and its destructive capacity, this bug often requires setting up large quarantine areas to prevent longhorned beetle outbreaks.
How To Control Their Spread?
Eliminating longhorned beetles can be a challenge, as pesticides aren’t very effective against them.
In the event of a longhorned beetle outbreak, the best you can do is try to control its spread.
Usually, quarantine areas with buffer zones are set up to control the spread. This requires the removal of infested trees after a thorough survey.
During the quarantine period, no host trees or wood should be moved out from the area, including nursery stock.
Besides this, it’s also possible to use the natural enemies of the pest against them to control their population.
Ontsira mellipes, a parasitoid wasp species, is particularly effective against these pests.
The wasp is already used often to control the spread of Asian Longhorned Beetles in forests.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do longhorned beetles bite?
If you come across a longhorned beetle in your home, there’s no reason to fear it.
Although these pests can be quite a nuisance, they are incapable of stinging, biting, or harming you in any other way.
Besides, the adult beetles do not attack furniture either; only the larvae of certain species do.
Are longhorn beetles harmful?
Although the extent of damage depends on the species, long-horned beetles can wreak havoc on trees.
Their larvae bore tunnels and galleries in the stems and the roots, weakening the trees and eventually killing them.
These beetles can be devastating enough to disrupt forest and woodland ecosystems. The adults feed on leaves, young bark, and twigs.
What do longhorn beetles do?
The adult females chew depressions into tree bark and lay their eggs inside them. Upon hatching, the larvae feed on plant tissue, boring deep and vast tunnels in the wood.
Besides the damage this causes to the tree’s structure, it also inhibits the tree’s ability to absorb and transfer nutrients properly.
How long do longhorn beetles live?
Like many insect species, female longhorn beetles live longer than males. Each female beetle of this species lives for approximately 66 days after hatching. A male longhorn beetle, on the other hand, has a lifespan of 50 days.
Longhorned beetles can attack a diverse variety of trees. Potential host species include mountain ashes, birches, willows, poplars, maples, etc.
Due to the nature of the infestation, it is possible that these bugs can cause a lot of economic harm to the wood industry.
Hence, the appearance of these beetles near woods or gardens can be quite concerning. I hope you found this article enjoyable, and thank you for reading it.
Given that some longhorned beetles can be very destructive to trees, it is no surprise that our readers wanted to understand how far some of them could spread and whether they could fly or not.
Regardless, we have an excellent collection of photographs of longhorned beetles from all over the world. Do go through the letters and pics below.
Letter 1 – Unknown Longhorn Borer identified as Cedar Tree Borer – Beetles in their Beds!!!!!
Beetle we can’t identify
We recently purchased a new construction home in Granby CO. This beetle has now shown up in one of the bedrooms (mainly in the bed – not too happy sharing with them!) There is a sump pump in the foundation in that room. Can you identify this lovely creature for me? Picture is attached. Thank you! If you need further information – please contact me.
We tried to match the species of the Longhorn Borer Beetle, family Cerambycidae, on BugGuide with no luck. You did not indicate if this was an isolated specimen of if many were found. If it is a new home, it is entirely possible that some of the wood had beetle grubs that matured and chewed their way out. Adults do not bore into wood, only grubs. It is also possible that this specimen was attracted indoors by the lights. At any rate, we will check with Eric Eaton to see if he can narrow down the exact identification. Eric wrote back with this information: “Daniel: I have no idea what this is. Please contact Doug Yanega at UC Riverside. He should be able to recognize it. Please have him CC me his response, I’m really curious now myself! Oh, wait. I just thought of a possibility: Semanotus ligneus, or something else in that genus. Eric”
Update: (02/06/2007) Unknown Longhorn Borer
Dear What’s That Bug,
It appears that the unknown longhorn beetle in kathie’s new home in CO. is the Cedar Tree Borer-Semanotus l. ligneus. Good looking bycid. Keep up the good work Brian
U.S. Department of Agriculture (Aphis)
Beetle we can’t identify
Thank you for checking into this specimen for me. This beetle has mainly been in the one bedroom. Within 1 day there were 15 counted in the bed and around on the floor. We did locate one about 15 feet into another bedroom. However, I believe this is an isolated area that they are coming in to (possibly the sump pump?). I look forward to hearing what you find out for the exact kind this is. I also contacted our furniture company as we recently had some white cedar bedroom furniture bought for that room. However, I was informed that the cedar is a natural bug repellant and nothing should have been in that wood. Thank you again for your’s and Eric’s help with our unwanted guests. Sincerely,
Hi again Kathie,
Based on the information we have recieved since posting your photo, you have Cedar Tree Borers. Since you have just purchased Cedar furniture for your bedroom, and you find the beetles in the bed, we are guessing that the grubs were in fact dormant in the wood and have recently emerged. While cedar is a natural insect repellant, it does not repel the Cedar Tree Borer.
Another Case of Cedar Tree Borers
This is my first visit to your website to identify a bug, and the second picture I see is the picture Kathie Jones sent you on 2-5-07. That is the bug I was looking to identify, how weird is that! We have seen a good dozen of these bugs in our bedroom -in the vicinity of our bed. We set up a new bed and mattress exactly one month ago and the bugs started appearing a a week or two later, I don’t recall seeing one of those ever before. The bed is a handcrafted log bed from a guy who makes them in northern Wisconsin, we live in southern Wisconsin, my husband picked up the bed himself and transported it to our house in his pick-up truck, we set it up the next day. Maybe this will help you identify it. We sure would like to know what they are and what we can do about them. Thanks,
Dear What’s that bug, Has the owners of their new cedar furniture looked for frass or what they would consider saw dust caused by the beetle activities. This should help them locate the exit holes and what part of their new bedroom set has the beetles. Sometimes you can hear them chewing. I would ask the makers of the furniture if the wood has been heat treated. I would bet not. If the have any specimens in good shape I would gladly put them into my insect collection. I have seen exotic longhorns emerging from all kinds of items ranging from imported pine cones to wooden bussiness card holders. Hope this information helps the folks out
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Chet and Katie
The use of an exterminator may be a bit much but they may tell you otherwise. These beetles 1st came to the cedar probably a tree that was stressed or dying when it laid its eggs. Then the larvae entered the tree feeding and creating feeding galleries inside the tree. At that point it was cut and made into its present form (bedroom furniture). Normally the larvae are in the tree for a season and then emerge as adults during the warmer months. When you brought the furniture into your warm house you triggered the beetle to emerge. The section or sections has to be pretty infested to have the numbers you have mentioned. The sump pump you mentioned is not an issue. These are wood borers not aquatic species but it good to see that you were looking at all the possibilities. After all the beetle emerge they will die in time. As adult beetles there main mission is to emerge and carry on the blood line by mating and laying eggs thus completing the lifecycle. No food to eat and no new host trees to lay eggs they will die out and they will not re-infest the furniture or other house hold items. They are totally harmless even though they have good size mouth parts but don’t really bite. They may make sounds when held (pretty cool). The only concern I would have is the damage that was done to the wood. If it is a leg holding up the bed or other important structure mishaps may happen. Look for saw dust or emergence hole. If the furniture is from a good company you should get a replacement or refund (take pics of the beetle and damage). At this point pesticides will not do much to solve this. The wood would have to be saturated with it (Not good for you son) and their sad home relocation story is almost over. The beetle will die out. If the furniture was from overseas we at the USDA would be very concerned due to exotic wood borering pest damage our forests and natural ecosystems like the emerald ash borer and the Asian Longhorned beetle. Yours is native though and a good looking bug at that and don’t regulate these. Any other questions feel free to ask
Hi Brian, I have several very much alive species of those Cedar Tree Borers in a small plastic ziplock bag right now. If you want them I will send them to you, let me know what to do. We have found some exit holes in the bed and we contacted the guy who made the bed and he is going to make us a new bed ASAP. Said this has never happened to him until now, he is also replacing one other bed from the same batch of wood. I’ll be waiting for your reply regarding sending you the critters. Thanks,
Dear Ann I am glad that you found the exit holes and that the furniture maker is going to replace the bed. Its not uncommon for batches of untreated wood to contain insects. I would not want to sleep on a bed that might break due to insect damage. A great thanks goes out to What’s That Bug? for all of their hard work and dedication. This is a happy ending to your story and was due to What’s That Bugs efforts. Besides posting identification and great photos they are providing many other great services to the public. Thanks
USDA APHIS PPQ
Letter 2 – Unknown South African Longhorned Borer Beetle
I stumbled across your website last week and I love it! Well done for creating such a website – I spent most of my weekend going through your archives. I am so happy to see that there are many other bug lovers out there! I am going to send you a collection of bug photos that I have taken over the years – I love bugs, but I don’t know enough about them to identify them so here are some bugs for you from South Africa to identify J. I’ll send them to you separately: 2. Beetle Some kind of a colourful beetle we found – also quite big, approx 6cm long Cheers,
First we must say that we are warmed by your enthusiasm. Second, we are impressed that you actually thought to send each of your requests as a separate email, which makes our posting much easier. Trying to keep What’s That Bug? even marginally organized is a daunting task, especially since the staff is organizationally challenged. You should see our office. Also, finding the time it takes for us to post even one letter with all the “real” obligations we have is not easy. With that said, we can only broadly identify your beetle. This is a Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, but we are not sure of the genus or species. Larvae of the Cerambycids, or Bycids for short, are wood boring grubs. Researching insects from many parts of the world, including South Africa, is not always easy, and there is a noticeable dearth of identification websites for many locations. Our request is that after about a week, any letters that we did not post, please resend them with any helpful information, and please don’t send them all at once.
Letter 3 – Unknown Long-Horned Borer Beetle from Thailand
Weird Bug from Thailand
I was hoping that you could help me identify this bug please from when I was living in Jomtien, Thailand. It chased me (or so it seemed) whilst I was outside put my washing to dry. After hiding in an out building for 10 minutes I ran back to the main house to tell me husband. When I went back outside it seemed to have been waiting for me and flew at me again. It finaly settled on a tree and my husband took this picture. Thank you for any information you can give. Love the site.
This surely is a spectacular looking Long-Horned Borer Beetle in the genus Cerambycidae. We are not certain of the species, and since we have several days of catch-up to do with posting since our new site migration, we haven’t the time to research this further. We feel fully confident that one of our loyal readers will be able to provide a proper identification, and then use the new comment option on our site to post an identification. To further assist in the identification, a larger file can be downloaded by clicking on the image.
Update: 23 September 2008
Finally went to see the new site….
The big, long-legged yellow longhorn with the black stripes from Thailand is Gerania bosci, apparently at least an uncommon species in collections. Great image, given the fear factor:-)
Letter 4 – Longhorned Borer Beetle from Aruba: Oxymerus aculeatus
Spots and Stripes…I’m Stumped!
June 5, 2009
First I just want to say I’m so glad I found this site…so informative, thanks for your efforts! I’d like to ask your help in identifying this guy I saw on vacation in Aruba last week. He was hanging around the balcony all day, weather there was low 80s and dry. The pattern reminds me of a potato beetle but the body doesn’t seem quite right…maybe some type of borer? (Sorry if these are dumb guesses, these is soooo not my field, I’m only working with what I could piece together in the last couple hours from google and pouring through your site until my eyes went blurry 🙂 )
Thanks in advance and I hope you are enjoying your vacation!
As you indicated, we were away when you wrote in June, and we never really caught up on unanswered mail. We are trying to post a few old letters today, and we find your request most interesting. First, both Leaf Beetles and Longhorned Borer Beetles are in the same superfamily Chrysomeloidea, so your confusion is actually supported by scientific taxonomy. Your beetle does have the markings of a Colorado Potato Beetle, and the antennae of a Longhorned Borer Beetle. We believe it is a Longhorned Borer in the family Cerambycidae, though we are uncertain of the species. Perhaps one of our readers can assist in a proper identification.
Identification courtesy of Karl
This looks like Oxymerus aculeatus (Cerambycidae: Cerambycinae: Trachyderini). The Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services has posted a “Pest Alert” for this species (available online), fearing that it may have become established in South Florida. I believe this is it, but I haven’t checked to see if there are related and similar looking species. Regards. K
Letter 5 – Mystery: Unknown Longhorned Borer Beetle is Hybodera tuberculata
Could you please try to ID these beetles? Thanks!
April 19, 2010
These were two of many of their kind that were scurrying all over my windshield today (April 19); some were mating. Each was maybe about an inch long. I was parked directly under a mature cherry tree. The yellow on the windshield is, I believe maple pollen. Thanks for any help in IDing them – I searched this site and a few others but didn’t manage to come across it. Love your site, I refer to it all the time and it has stopped me from being quite so much of a bug-fearer!
Karen in Seattle
Mercer Island, WA