Subject: GOAT INSECT
Location: Encarnación, Paraguay
May 3, 2014 1:00 pm
Hi, my name is Clara Müller and I’m from Paraguay. One day, in February of this year I found this insect I’ve never seen before walking through my garden. So I wanted to know if anyone recognizes this kind of insect or knows the name of it. As you can see in the picture I took, it was light gray with little black dots with long horns and shiny eyes. It was like the size of a cockroach. It was wet and kind of hurt because of the rain. It looks like a “goat insect” to me. I’ve just seen it once and I’m curious.
I would be happy if you reply to this letter.
Thanks in advance!
Signature: Clara Müller
While we do not have the time right now to research the identity of your Goat Insect, we can tell you what we do know. This is a Capricorn Beetle or Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, and we never really understood why they were called Capricorn Beetles until we received your request. Capricorn is the zodiacal sign of the goat and your Capricorn Beetle really does resemble a goat, so we think Goat Insect is a perfectly acceptable common name for your particular species, which we hope to be able to identify after we return to the office.
Update: May 4, 2014
Hi again Clara,
We believe your Capricorn beetle bears a strong resemblance to the images of Steirastoma breve that are posted on the Worldwide Cerambycidae Photo Gallery. We found additional images on PaDil where it is called a Cacao Beetle and there it is noted: “S. breve has been recorded as the most serious cerambycid pest of cocoa in the New World.” Steirastoma breve appeared on a postage stamp from Argentina in 2002 and you may see an image of that stamp on Colnect. There is also a nice image on FlickR that looks close to your Goat Insect, but part of the illusion is the camera angle and the shape of the head, which we cannot find duplicated in other images online. There is one image that we located in a google image search, but alas, we cannot access the site at http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?pid=S0120-04882008000200003&script=sci_arttext though we can see there is a reference to “La ‘gota’ del cacao, Steirastoma breve (Sulzer, 1776) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae).” We can’t help but to wonder if “gota” is a Spanglish name for goat, but that search has turned up a dead end since “gota” translates to “drop” or “gout” in English and “goat” in Spanish is either “chiva” or “cabra”. We are not fully convinced that there might still be some relationship between the words “gota” in Spanish and “goat” in English, since searching the term “La ‘gota’ del Cacao” led us to yet another reference to the family Cerambycidae in the Biblioteca Naciional de Venezuela catalog and an article on Biblioteca Virtual – FUNDESYRAM that is specifically about Steirastoma breve. Perhaps one of our readers with better Spanish language skills that our own can shed some light on this intriguing cross-linguistic word puzzle.
Thank you for your fast response, I can see the resemblance in the pictures. There isn’t any cocoa plants in my yard or (I think) in my town, but I still believe this Goat Insect is one of them .. Since my native language is Spanish I can tell you for sure that the words “Gota” and “Goat” are not related, but I still wanted to know why it’s called like this. So I searched for “La gota del cacao” on Google and I found this website: http://www.fundesyram.info/biblioteca/displayFicha.php?fichaID=3798. There is some useful information for farmers who grow cocoa and how to prevent the damages caused by our little friend. They say that the most harmful things are the Steirastoma breve larvae because they eat the bark of the plant, cut its wood and cause the death of the plant. They also say that the larvae excrete a white liquid in little “drops” which makes easier for farmers to see them. (gota = drop).
If this information is correct I think we already have our answer. Anyway if you have another information to share I would like to hear it.
Thanks for your time and have a nice week!
Thanks for writing back Clara. We really appreciate the etymological information as language, especially when translation is involved, can be quite confusing.