Where Do Eastern Eyed Click Beetles Live: Habitat Guide for Curious Minds

Eastern eyed click beetles are fascinating insects known for their striking appearance and impressive acrobatic abilities. These beetles can be found living in the eastern part of the United States, predominantly in deciduous forests where their larvae grow in decaying logs.

As an inhabitant of the deciduous forests, you might come across one of these intriguing creatures during your nature walks or explorations. The eastern eyed click beetle, or Alaus oculatus, boasts distinctive eyespots on its pronotum which serve to deter predators by imitating the appearance of a larger animal. Despite these large, false eyes, the beetle’s true eyes are much smaller and located behind the antennae.

Scientific Classification

Alaus oculatus

The Eastern Eyed Click Beetle, scientifically known as Alaus oculatus, belongs to the family Elateridae in the order Coleoptera. These beetles are known for their distinct “clicking” mechanism, which aids them in flipping back over if they find themselves upside down.

In the classification system, the Eastern Eyed Click Beetle falls under:

  • Order: Coleoptera
  • Family: Elateridae
  • Species: Alaus oculatus

Coleoptera, commonly known as beetles, is a diverse order that includes over 400,000 species as of 2014. This group of insects is characterized by their hardened front wings that provide protection to the hind wings and the body.

Distinct Features

Some unique features of the Eastern Eyed Click Beetle include:

  • Large size, reaching up to 1¾ inches in length
  • Impressive eyespots on the pronotum, creating a defense mechanism against predators
  • Real eyes located behind the antennae
  • A clicking mechanism that allows them to flip themselves upright if they are on their backs

Habitat

Eastern Eyed Click Beetles are commonly found in deciduous forests in the eastern parts of the United States. They prefer areas where decaying logs are present, as their larvae prey on the longhorn beetle grubs for survival.

Distribution and Habitat

Eastern eyed click beetles are commonly found in North America, including the U.S. These fascinating insects prefer deciduous forests and mixed forests.

You’ll often spot them in deciduous/mixed forests and woodlands. The larvae thrive in decaying logs, where they prey on longhorn beetle grubs. In these habitats, the beetles can find ample resources to sustain their life cycles.

A few notable points about eastern eyed click beetle habitats:

  • Widespread in North America, especially in the eastern U.S.
  • Favorable environments include deciduous forests and mixed forests
  • Woodlands with decaying logs are essential for the larvae’s development and survival

Remember, the next time you’re outdoors and come across these unique creatures, take a moment to appreciate their beauty and the ecological role they play in these forest habitats.

Physical Characteristics

Eastern eyed click beetles are quite unique insects. They showcase a black and white color combination. Let’s explore their characteristics in more detail.

One of the most noticeable features of these beetles is their large size. Eastern eyed click beetles can be anywhere from 1 to 1¾ inches long, making them easy to spot. Additionally, they have an elongate body shape, further accentuating their size.

Their most striking feature is the two large white spots on their pronotum, resembling eyes. These eyespots are not real eyes, but they do serve an important purpose. The bold patterns created by the eyespots can deter predators from attacking the beetle. The true eyes of the beetle are much smaller and not as easy to notice.

When it comes to their actual physical appearance, here are some notable features:

  • Color: Black body with large, round, white eyespots
  • Size: 1 to 1¾ inches in length
  • Shape: Elongate body
  • Eyes: Small and inconspicuous, located below the eyespots

Now that you have a better understanding of eastern eyed click beetles’ physical characteristics, you can more easily identify these fascinating insects when you come across them in your outdoor adventures.

Deterring Predators

The Eastern Eyed Click Beetle, also known as the eyed elater, is an interesting creature with unique features that help deter predators. In this section, we’ll explore how their appearance and mechanisms work together to keep them safe.

One of the most noticeable aspects of the Eastern Eyed Click Beetle is its large, black eye spots. These spots, which resemble eyes, are designed to scare away potential predators. When a predator sees these large “eyes”, they’re more likely to hesitate, thinking the beetle is much larger or more dangerous than it actually is.

Besides their intimidating appearance, the Eastern Eyed Click Beetle also has a fascinating mechanism to help them escape when threatened. They possess an ability to create a clicking noise and flip themselves into the air. This clicking mechanism is not only great for their survival, but it’s also what gives these beetles their name.

You can imagine the surprise of a predator when the beetle they’re attempting to eat suddenly flips into the air with an audible click. Not only does this maneuver startle the attacker, but it also allows the beetle to easily move away from danger.

So, when encountering these fascinating insects, you can now appreciate their unique adaptations that help protect them. The Eastern Eyed Click Beetle’s eye spots and flipping mechanism are a great example of nature’s ingenuity in keeping its creatures safe.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the eastern eyed click beetle consists of four main stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Eggs are laid in soil, usually near decaying logs or tree stumps. This choice of location is essential for the survival and development of the larvae, as they rely on wood-boring insect larvae as a primary food source.

Larvae, also known as wireworms or grubs, are elongated, cylindrical, and somewhat flattened. They spend most of their time within the decaying wood. They are fierce predators, typically feeding on longhorn beetle grubs found in the same environment. Being patient and hardworking, these click beetle larvae may take several years to fully mature.

As the larvae reach the end of their development, they enter the pupal stage. They create a small chamber within the wood or surrounding soil, where they’ll transform into adults. This transformation process is truly fascinating, as the entire form of the insect changes within the protective chamber.

Once they reach adulthood, the eastern eyed click beetles become capable of the namesake “click” mechanism to escape danger or right themselves when flipped over. These click beetles can be easily identified by the large, somewhat intimidating “eyespots” on their thorax, which are thought to deter predators like birds.

Now that you know about the life cycle of the eastern eyed click beetle, you can better appreciate these intriguing creatures and their remarkable adaptations in the wild. Always remember the importance of conserving natural habitats, as this will help maintain a healthy ecosystem and promote the survival of various species, like the eastern eyed click beetle.

Feeding Habits

Eastern eyed click beetles have a diverse diet during their lifecycle. As larvae, they are known as wireworms and feed on a variety of underground organisms and organic matter. In this stage, some of their primary food sources include:

  • Earthworms: Wireworms consume earthworms found in the soil.
  • Roots and seeds: These larvae may also feed on the roots and seeds of plants, causing damage to vegetation.

The adult eastern eyed click beetles have a different diet. They generally consume:

  • Nectar: Adult beetles enjoy sipping on nectar from flowers to gain energy and nutrients.
  • Plant juices: These beetles may also feed on plant juices by piercing the surface of leaves or stems.

To sum up, eastern eyed click beetles have distinct feeding habits as both wireworms and adults. Their diverse diet helps them thrive in various environments, such as deciduous forests where they can find decaying logs and plant life to sustain their nutritional needs.

Role in Ecosystem

Eastern eyed click beetles play essential roles in forests’ ecosystems. As arthropods, they help maintain healthy balances among various organisms and contribute to decomposition processes.

These beetles are predators in their larval stage when they dwell in decaying logs. They primarily hunt longhorn beetle grubs.

The adult beetles’ remarkable appearance—large black spots resembling eyes on their head—deters potential predators. This protective feature allows them to thrive, benefiting the ecosystem they inhabit.

By understanding the eastern eyed click beetle’s role in the ecosystem, you can appreciate their contributions to maintaining a healthy environment.

Threat to Humans and Control Methods

Eastern eyed click beetles are not considered a significant threat to humans. They do not bite or sting. However, they can sometimes become a nuisance if they find their way into your home or garden. Since beetles are attracted to light, they may enter through open windows and doors or through gaps in screens.

Some control methods to prevent these beetles from becoming a nuisance include:

  • Seal gaps around windows and doors.
  • Install screens on windows and doors.
  • Properly maintain your garden and yard to minimize the beetle’s food sources and breeding areas.

Note: These methods should be sufficient to keep the beetles in check without the need for any chemical pesticides. Let’s talk about some damage control tips now.

Eastern eyed click beetles can cause minor damage to gardens, mainly when their larvae feed on plant roots. Therefore, you should look after the health of your plants and promptly remove any decaying matter, as this attracts the beetles.

Besides, it’s helpful to add beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings to your garden, as they are natural predators and can help control click beetles.

Remember, by implementing these preventive measures, you can prevent eastern eyed click beetles from becoming a nuisance while staying friendly to the environment and their role in the ecosystem.

Other Facts and Observations

Eastern eyed click beetles belong to the family Elateridae. These insects have some unique features:

  • The thorax has two large eyespots on the pronotum, which is the dorsal plate of the first segment.
  • Their range extends across North America, in particular to deciduous/mixed forests and woodlands.
  • At night, some click beetles, including certain members of this family, emit an eerie glow. This luminescence is attributed to two small lights located on their thorax.
  • Eastern eyed click beetles might also be called wood-boring beetles as they are known to inhabit decaying logs.

These beetles have a fascinating way of moving around. They’re quite acrobatic, using their cylindrical bodies and strong legs to jump and click. A unique groove on the underside of their bodies allows them to bend and snap, propelling them into the air. You might be intrigued by how high they can jump for such small creatures.

As larvae, click beetles are nicknamed “wire worms” and burrow into the soil. They play a role in breaking down decaying plant matter in forests and fields. In this stage, they might eat plant roots, but their impact on plants is generally minimal.

In summary, eastern eyed click beetles are fascinating members of the insect world with unique features and behaviors. While they may share some characteristics with other insects, their distinctive eyespots, luminescence, and clicking mechanism set them apart from the rest. Explore your local forests and woodlands, and you might just spot one of these remarkable creatures.

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 – Eyed Elater

 

What is this?
Hi,
I found this in a maple log I was splitting for firewood. The tree center was wet, had ants, beetles and this creature in it. I am not sure if it was eating the ants, beetles or the wood. The insect was set on a light colored piece of wood, so as to make a nice background for a picture. It had its legs and antennea tucked underneath its shell. The critter must have felt not hidden enough on that light colored wood, it somehow snapped its legs against the wood and somersaulted about 2 1/2 feet away. I put it on this piece of bark which seemed to comfort it enough to unfold its legs and antennea so I could snap a good picture of it. I put it in the wood scrap pile after the pictures were taken. I cut this tree in the far east side of St. Clair county which is in southeast lower Michigan.
Thanks,
Mike First

Hi Mike,
Thank you for your eyewitness account of the behavior which puts the Eyed Elater in the Click Beetle Family. The beetles are capable of snapping their bodies and flipping in the air. They never get caught on their backs. The Eyed Elater is the largest North American Click Beetle, and its scientific name is Alaus oculatus. It is often found in rotting timber.

Letter 2 – Eyed Elater

 


I found this bug on the backdoor. I’ve never seen one before. It moved very slowly and didn’t seem bothered when I took a picture. What could it be?
Brian Newbury
Center Ossipee, N.H.

Hi Brian,
This Click Beetle is commonly called the Eyed Elater. It is a striking beetle.

Letter 3 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Big borer
Location: West of Pensacola, FL
March 30, 2014 6:04 pm
This guy may work for the NSA. Look at his huge eyes. He makes a very audible tick sound when he moves. He’s about the size of the last two joints on my little finger. I discovered him while taking a few wacks at a dead and diseased southern maple with an axe. His hole is not far from the rotted center base of the tree. He has skinny legs. The location is about a mile north of theNaval Air Station near Pensacola.
Signature: Bob

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear Bob,
This is an Eyed Elater, one of the Click Beetles that is capable of righting itself when it finds itself on its back, by snapping its body at the joint between the thorax and the abdomen, producing an audible “click”.  We are especially happy to receive your photo of the hole of an Eyed Elater.

Hole of an Eyed Elater
Hole of an Emerged Eyed Elater

Well, thank you Daniel. You guys are amazing! I submitted my photos at 6PM Sunday night and you answered by 1AM. Those creepy crawlies must keep you up all night. Your website is what they must have envisioned when they invented the internet. Thanks, Bob

Thanks for your kind comment Bob.  We just posted one final posting prior to going to sleep, and that was your submission.  We are several hours earlier in California, so we were not up all night responding to the increasing number of requests we are getting now that spring is upon us.

Letter 4 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Giant Beetle?
Location: East Texas
April 12, 2014 1:38 pm
I have never seen anything like this. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it was more of a brownish-grey and had two spot on its back that resembled eyes or the markings of some moths.
Signature: Thanks! Megan

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Hi Megan,
This is a very dark Eyed Elater, a species of Click Beetle.  Most individuals are colored in a more contrasting manner so the dark occuli or eyespots show up dramatically against the body.  The eyespots serve as a defense mechanism, fooling many predators into thinking that the succulent morsel is actually a much larger predator, like a snake.

Letter 5 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Bug Identification
Location: South East Texas
May 5, 2014 3:25 pm
I found this insect on a piece of OSB wood I had lying on the grass, I thought it was a cockroach at first glance but I immediately knew it was something else. It was walking back and forth on the board, it wouldn’t go in to the grass. I trapped it under a glass pot cover and examined it a bit, I noticed that it retrieved its legs and head in to its body, kind of like a turtle, from the force of the cover coming down around it. After a little while it started to walk again, this time inside the glass cover;I decided to take a video of it. I realized it had wings that allowed it to fly while doing this, I screen captured it and included it in the photos I uploaded.
I just want to know if you guys had any idea what this bug is because I cant seem to find out for my self.
Thanks,
Signature: Alex V

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Hi Alex,
Though we have no shortage of images of Eyed Elaters on our site, we absolutely love your image showing the soft flight wings which are revealed when the rigid elytra are spread.

Letter 6 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Eastern spotted clicking Beatle
Location: Corpus Christi
June 2, 2014 4:59 am
We found this fella outside being harassed by the cats. We caught him, watched him, and let him go. He keeps hanging around the yard and doesn’t bother anyone. My wife searched Google and thinks this is an Eastern Spotted Clicking Beetle.
Do you agree? Anything to worry about here?
Signature: Tim

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Hi Tim,
The most common names used for this species of Click Beetle, Alaus oculatus, are Eyed Elater and Eyed Click Beetle.

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Letter 7 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Strange bug
Location: SW Ontario Canada
June 7, 2014 11:56 am
We found two of these bugs. We would like to know what they are and if they are destructive or beneficial?
Signature: Gardener

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear Gardener,
This is an Eyed Elater, the largest North American Click Beetle.  In our opinion, it is beneficial based on what BugGuide indicates it feeds upon:  “Adults may take some nectar and plant juices.  Larvae are predatory, eating grubs of wood-boring beetles like cerambycids (longhorns).”

Letter 8 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: B/W bug
Location: Poynette, WI
June 8, 2014 2:56 pm
This bugger was spotted near poynette, WI on Lake Wisconsin. I’ve lived in WI all my life and never seen this flying critter.
Signature: Heather

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear Heather,
This large, distinctive Click Beetle is commonly called an Eyed Elater, and the false eyes are a form of protective mimicry that will prevent a predator like a bird from attacking the Eyed Elater as it created the illusion of it being a much larger creature.

Thank you so very much. I wish I knew that he wouldn’t be likely to hurt me when I saw him and had the opportunity it hear/ see him click.
Heather

Letter 9 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Unusual bug
Location: South Carolina
July 13, 2014 7:57 am
What is this and is it poisonous or dangerous to persons, pets, property or flowers
Signature: Curious

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear Curious,
The distinctive Eyed Elater is not poisonous, and it is not dangerous to persons, pets, property or flowers.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults may take some nectar and plant juices.  Larvae are predatory, eating grubs of wood-boring beetles like cerambycids (longhorns).”

Letter 10 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Beetle?
Location: Western, NC United States
May 1, 2015 6:12 pm
Hello Bugman,
I found this guy in my cat’s bowl.
What is it?  I neglected  to mention  it is almost 2″ long.
Western, NC
May 2, 2015
Thanks so much,
I stopped killing spiders years ago because of you.
Signature: interested

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear interested,
This magnificent beetle is an Eyed Elater,
Alaus oculatus, the largest North American Click Beetle.

Wow, thanks, that was fast.
My friend found one in her yard a few days ago. And we both wanted to know. We especially  wanted to know it it bites, felt pretty safe after seeing the picture of Jay holding one.
Thanks again,
you always come through.

Letter 11 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Eyed Elater
Location: Edwin Warner park, Nashville, TN
May 27, 2015 8:50 am
I almost stepped on this one at the park and it scared the crap out of me! I identified it using your site and have a good picture of it. It’s contrast stands out a little better than some of the darker ones.
Signature: n/a

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Thanks for sending us your image of an Eyed Elater.  We are posting it.

Letter 12 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: What kind of Beetle is this?
Location: Southeastern United States
July 6, 2016 12:30 pm
This guy is in Middle Tennessee. I was wondering what kind of beetle this is, and are those really its eyes or just markings?
Signature: DL in TN

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear DL in TN,
The large eyespots on the thorax of the Eyed Elater have evolved as protective mimicry.  A predator like a bird might be fooled into thinking that a tasty morsel is actually a much larger predator.

Letter 13 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Big Beatle
Location: Middle Tennessee
May 17, 2017 10:04 am
I live in the upper Cumberland platue area. I’m seeing these weird looking Beatles more and more in this area. Can you please tell me what they kind of bug this is. Thank you.
Signature: A.navarro

Eyed Elater

Dear A. Navarro,
This is an Eyed Elater,
Alaus oculatus, the largest North American Click Beetle.  It is universally believed that the striking “eye spots” are protective markings that fool predators like birds into thinking the beetle is a threat as opposed to a tasty morsel.  According to BugGuide:  “Eggs are laid in soil. Larvae predators of beetle larvae in decaying wood, especially hardwoods. Pupation is in unlined cell underground or in rotting wood.”  If you live near a wooded area with rotting logs, it might explain the spike in the numbers of Eyed Elaters you are encountering.

Letter 14 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Black and white bugs help
Location: Portage, Michigan, USA
June 4, 2017 11:27 am
Hello, my name is Krystina and you all helped identify what was a harmless bug. But I’m back with a new bug me and my friends found in the backyard. Thank you so much for your time and knowledge!
Signature: Krystina

Eyed Elater

Dear Krystina,
We are glad you are returning for a new identification.  This is a harmless Eyed Elater, the largest Click Beetle in North America.  Click Beetles are quite amusing.  Unlike most beetles that struggle if they find themselves on their backs, the Eyed Elater and other Click Beetles can snap their bodies, propelling themselves into the air so that they land on their feet.  What appear to be eyes are actually false eyespots that will potentially frighten away a predator that thinks a tasty morsel is actually a larger threat.  Dr. Kent Hovind’s Blog has a children’s story that explains those interesting aspects of the Eyed Elater.  Because our editorial staff will be away from the office later in the month, we are post-dating your submission to go live while we are on holiday.

Letter 15 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Cool bug. Can you ID?
Location: Waveland, MS
June 12, 2017 4:18 pm
This beauty crash landed next to me on my porch. It’s an overcast summer day, not too hot. Area is swampy and semi-wooded. House is raised about 15′ .
The bug was fine after the landing, and quickly ambled off toward some potted plants.
Signature: Jackalope

Eyed Elater

Dear Jackalope,
North America’s largest Click Beetle, the Eyed Elater, is one of our most frequent identification requests from Eastern North America during the late spring and summer months.

Letter 16 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Big beetle
Location: Lee’s Summit, MO
July 18, 2017 3:10 pm
What is this? It jumps like a click beetle.
Signature: Sandy Wilson

Eyed Elater

Dear Sandy,
“It jumps like a click beetle” because it is a Click Beetle.  The Eyed Elater is the largest North American Click Beetle.

Letter 17 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Beautiful Bug
Location: Moraine State Park, PA, USA
August 5, 2017 9:13 pm
Can you tell us what this bug is? It was about 2″ long.
Signature: mccholly

Eyed Elater

Dear mccholly,
We can’t resist going straight to submissions with subject lines like your “Beautiful Bug” when we are searching for content for our site.  This is an Eyed Elater, the largest North American Click Beetle.

Letter 18 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject:  Beetle ?
Geographic location of the bug:  western new york
Date: 06/25/2018
Time: 08:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  found on golf course near niagara falls
How you want your letter signed:  jw

Eyed Elater

Dear jw,
This is an Eyed Elater, the largest North American Click Beetle.  The “eyes” are actually eyespots, markings that might fool a predator into thinking the Eyed Elater is a much larger, and potentially threatening creature, when it is in fact quite harmless.

Letter 19 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject:  Huge flying bug – Atlanta GA
Geographic location of the bug:  Lawrenceville GA USA
Date: 07/07/2018
Time: 10:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This thing flew onto out covered deck. At first I thought it was a hummingbird. We picked it up and set on the railing away from our puppy. Thought maybe it was playing dead, so we checked an hour later and it was gone.
How you want your letter signed:  Janet Tolman

Eyed Elater

Dear Janet,
The Eyed Elater is the largest Click Beetle in North America.

Letter 20 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject:  Large black bug with huge false eyes
Geographic location of the bug:  North central North Carolina
Date: 08/02/2018
Time: 11:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This bug was on the wall of our home in NC.  Date was August 2,2018.  I would estimate that it was a little over an inch long.  I am pretty sure the “eyes” are not actual eyes but rather adaptive coloring.
How you want your letter signed:  Will Parrish

Eyed Elater

Dear Will,
This impressive Click Beetle is appropriately called an Eyed Elater, and you are correct that those “eyes” are not real and are used as protection against predators.

Letter 21 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject:  What is this Texas bug
Geographic location of the bug:  South Central Texas
Date: 08/11/2018
Time: 12:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Would you please identify this bug
How you want your letter signed:  Bug

Eyed Elater

Dear Bug,
No other North American beetle looks quite like the distinctive Eyed Elater.

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 – Eyed Elater

 

What is this?
Hi,
I found this in a maple log I was splitting for firewood. The tree center was wet, had ants, beetles and this creature in it. I am not sure if it was eating the ants, beetles or the wood. The insect was set on a light colored piece of wood, so as to make a nice background for a picture. It had its legs and antennea tucked underneath its shell. The critter must have felt not hidden enough on that light colored wood, it somehow snapped its legs against the wood and somersaulted about 2 1/2 feet away. I put it on this piece of bark which seemed to comfort it enough to unfold its legs and antennea so I could snap a good picture of it. I put it in the wood scrap pile after the pictures were taken. I cut this tree in the far east side of St. Clair county which is in southeast lower Michigan.
Thanks,
Mike First

Hi Mike,
Thank you for your eyewitness account of the behavior which puts the Eyed Elater in the Click Beetle Family. The beetles are capable of snapping their bodies and flipping in the air. They never get caught on their backs. The Eyed Elater is the largest North American Click Beetle, and its scientific name is Alaus oculatus. It is often found in rotting timber.

Letter 2 – Eyed Elater

 


I found this bug on the backdoor. I’ve never seen one before. It moved very slowly and didn’t seem bothered when I took a picture. What could it be?
Brian Newbury
Center Ossipee, N.H.

Hi Brian,
This Click Beetle is commonly called the Eyed Elater. It is a striking beetle.

Letter 3 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Big borer
Location: West of Pensacola, FL
March 30, 2014 6:04 pm
This guy may work for the NSA. Look at his huge eyes. He makes a very audible tick sound when he moves. He’s about the size of the last two joints on my little finger. I discovered him while taking a few wacks at a dead and diseased southern maple with an axe. His hole is not far from the rotted center base of the tree. He has skinny legs. The location is about a mile north of theNaval Air Station near Pensacola.
Signature: Bob

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear Bob,
This is an Eyed Elater, one of the Click Beetles that is capable of righting itself when it finds itself on its back, by snapping its body at the joint between the thorax and the abdomen, producing an audible “click”.  We are especially happy to receive your photo of the hole of an Eyed Elater.

Hole of an Eyed Elater
Hole of an Emerged Eyed Elater

Well, thank you Daniel. You guys are amazing! I submitted my photos at 6PM Sunday night and you answered by 1AM. Those creepy crawlies must keep you up all night. Your website is what they must have envisioned when they invented the internet. Thanks, Bob

Thanks for your kind comment Bob.  We just posted one final posting prior to going to sleep, and that was your submission.  We are several hours earlier in California, so we were not up all night responding to the increasing number of requests we are getting now that spring is upon us.

Letter 4 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Giant Beetle?
Location: East Texas
April 12, 2014 1:38 pm
I have never seen anything like this. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it was more of a brownish-grey and had two spot on its back that resembled eyes or the markings of some moths.
Signature: Thanks! Megan

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Hi Megan,
This is a very dark Eyed Elater, a species of Click Beetle.  Most individuals are colored in a more contrasting manner so the dark occuli or eyespots show up dramatically against the body.  The eyespots serve as a defense mechanism, fooling many predators into thinking that the succulent morsel is actually a much larger predator, like a snake.

Letter 5 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Bug Identification
Location: South East Texas
May 5, 2014 3:25 pm
I found this insect on a piece of OSB wood I had lying on the grass, I thought it was a cockroach at first glance but I immediately knew it was something else. It was walking back and forth on the board, it wouldn’t go in to the grass. I trapped it under a glass pot cover and examined it a bit, I noticed that it retrieved its legs and head in to its body, kind of like a turtle, from the force of the cover coming down around it. After a little while it started to walk again, this time inside the glass cover;I decided to take a video of it. I realized it had wings that allowed it to fly while doing this, I screen captured it and included it in the photos I uploaded.
I just want to know if you guys had any idea what this bug is because I cant seem to find out for my self.
Thanks,
Signature: Alex V

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Hi Alex,
Though we have no shortage of images of Eyed Elaters on our site, we absolutely love your image showing the soft flight wings which are revealed when the rigid elytra are spread.

Letter 6 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Eastern spotted clicking Beatle
Location: Corpus Christi
June 2, 2014 4:59 am
We found this fella outside being harassed by the cats. We caught him, watched him, and let him go. He keeps hanging around the yard and doesn’t bother anyone. My wife searched Google and thinks this is an Eastern Spotted Clicking Beetle.
Do you agree? Anything to worry about here?
Signature: Tim

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Hi Tim,
The most common names used for this species of Click Beetle, Alaus oculatus, are Eyed Elater and Eyed Click Beetle.

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Letter 7 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Strange bug
Location: SW Ontario Canada
June 7, 2014 11:56 am
We found two of these bugs. We would like to know what they are and if they are destructive or beneficial?
Signature: Gardener

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear Gardener,
This is an Eyed Elater, the largest North American Click Beetle.  In our opinion, it is beneficial based on what BugGuide indicates it feeds upon:  “Adults may take some nectar and plant juices.  Larvae are predatory, eating grubs of wood-boring beetles like cerambycids (longhorns).”

Letter 8 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: B/W bug
Location: Poynette, WI
June 8, 2014 2:56 pm
This bugger was spotted near poynette, WI on Lake Wisconsin. I’ve lived in WI all my life and never seen this flying critter.
Signature: Heather

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear Heather,
This large, distinctive Click Beetle is commonly called an Eyed Elater, and the false eyes are a form of protective mimicry that will prevent a predator like a bird from attacking the Eyed Elater as it created the illusion of it being a much larger creature.

Thank you so very much. I wish I knew that he wouldn’t be likely to hurt me when I saw him and had the opportunity it hear/ see him click.
Heather

Letter 9 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Unusual bug
Location: South Carolina
July 13, 2014 7:57 am
What is this and is it poisonous or dangerous to persons, pets, property or flowers
Signature: Curious

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear Curious,
The distinctive Eyed Elater is not poisonous, and it is not dangerous to persons, pets, property or flowers.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults may take some nectar and plant juices.  Larvae are predatory, eating grubs of wood-boring beetles like cerambycids (longhorns).”

Letter 10 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Beetle?
Location: Western, NC United States
May 1, 2015 6:12 pm
Hello Bugman,
I found this guy in my cat’s bowl.
What is it?  I neglected  to mention  it is almost 2″ long.
Western, NC
May 2, 2015
Thanks so much,
I stopped killing spiders years ago because of you.
Signature: interested

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear interested,
This magnificent beetle is an Eyed Elater,
Alaus oculatus, the largest North American Click Beetle.

Wow, thanks, that was fast.
My friend found one in her yard a few days ago. And we both wanted to know. We especially  wanted to know it it bites, felt pretty safe after seeing the picture of Jay holding one.
Thanks again,
you always come through.

Letter 11 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Eyed Elater
Location: Edwin Warner park, Nashville, TN
May 27, 2015 8:50 am
I almost stepped on this one at the park and it scared the crap out of me! I identified it using your site and have a good picture of it. It’s contrast stands out a little better than some of the darker ones.
Signature: n/a

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Thanks for sending us your image of an Eyed Elater.  We are posting it.

Letter 12 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: What kind of Beetle is this?
Location: Southeastern United States
July 6, 2016 12:30 pm
This guy is in Middle Tennessee. I was wondering what kind of beetle this is, and are those really its eyes or just markings?
Signature: DL in TN

Eyed Elater
Eyed Elater

Dear DL in TN,
The large eyespots on the thorax of the Eyed Elater have evolved as protective mimicry.  A predator like a bird might be fooled into thinking that a tasty morsel is actually a much larger predator.

Letter 13 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Big Beatle
Location: Middle Tennessee
May 17, 2017 10:04 am
I live in the upper Cumberland platue area. I’m seeing these weird looking Beatles more and more in this area. Can you please tell me what they kind of bug this is. Thank you.
Signature: A.navarro

Eyed Elater

Dear A. Navarro,
This is an Eyed Elater,
Alaus oculatus, the largest North American Click Beetle.  It is universally believed that the striking “eye spots” are protective markings that fool predators like birds into thinking the beetle is a threat as opposed to a tasty morsel.  According to BugGuide:  “Eggs are laid in soil. Larvae predators of beetle larvae in decaying wood, especially hardwoods. Pupation is in unlined cell underground or in rotting wood.”  If you live near a wooded area with rotting logs, it might explain the spike in the numbers of Eyed Elaters you are encountering.

Letter 14 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Black and white bugs help
Location: Portage, Michigan, USA
June 4, 2017 11:27 am
Hello, my name is Krystina and you all helped identify what was a harmless bug. But I’m back with a new bug me and my friends found in the backyard. Thank you so much for your time and knowledge!
Signature: Krystina

Eyed Elater

Dear Krystina,
We are glad you are returning for a new identification.  This is a harmless Eyed Elater, the largest Click Beetle in North America.  Click Beetles are quite amusing.  Unlike most beetles that struggle if they find themselves on their backs, the Eyed Elater and other Click Beetles can snap their bodies, propelling themselves into the air so that they land on their feet.  What appear to be eyes are actually false eyespots that will potentially frighten away a predator that thinks a tasty morsel is actually a larger threat.  Dr. Kent Hovind’s Blog has a children’s story that explains those interesting aspects of the Eyed Elater.  Because our editorial staff will be away from the office later in the month, we are post-dating your submission to go live while we are on holiday.

Letter 15 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Cool bug. Can you ID?
Location: Waveland, MS
June 12, 2017 4:18 pm
This beauty crash landed next to me on my porch. It’s an overcast summer day, not too hot. Area is swampy and semi-wooded. House is raised about 15′ .
The bug was fine after the landing, and quickly ambled off toward some potted plants.
Signature: Jackalope

Eyed Elater

Dear Jackalope,
North America’s largest Click Beetle, the Eyed Elater, is one of our most frequent identification requests from Eastern North America during the late spring and summer months.

Letter 16 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Big beetle
Location: Lee’s Summit, MO
July 18, 2017 3:10 pm
What is this? It jumps like a click beetle.
Signature: Sandy Wilson

Eyed Elater

Dear Sandy,
“It jumps like a click beetle” because it is a Click Beetle.  The Eyed Elater is the largest North American Click Beetle.

Letter 17 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject: Beautiful Bug
Location: Moraine State Park, PA, USA
August 5, 2017 9:13 pm
Can you tell us what this bug is? It was about 2″ long.
Signature: mccholly

Eyed Elater

Dear mccholly,
We can’t resist going straight to submissions with subject lines like your “Beautiful Bug” when we are searching for content for our site.  This is an Eyed Elater, the largest North American Click Beetle.

Letter 18 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject:  Beetle ?
Geographic location of the bug:  western new york
Date: 06/25/2018
Time: 08:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  found on golf course near niagara falls
How you want your letter signed:  jw

Eyed Elater

Dear jw,
This is an Eyed Elater, the largest North American Click Beetle.  The “eyes” are actually eyespots, markings that might fool a predator into thinking the Eyed Elater is a much larger, and potentially threatening creature, when it is in fact quite harmless.

Letter 19 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject:  Huge flying bug – Atlanta GA
Geographic location of the bug:  Lawrenceville GA USA
Date: 07/07/2018
Time: 10:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This thing flew onto out covered deck. At first I thought it was a hummingbird. We picked it up and set on the railing away from our puppy. Thought maybe it was playing dead, so we checked an hour later and it was gone.
How you want your letter signed:  Janet Tolman

Eyed Elater

Dear Janet,
The Eyed Elater is the largest Click Beetle in North America.

Letter 20 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject:  Large black bug with huge false eyes
Geographic location of the bug:  North central North Carolina
Date: 08/02/2018
Time: 11:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This bug was on the wall of our home in NC.  Date was August 2,2018.  I would estimate that it was a little over an inch long.  I am pretty sure the “eyes” are not actual eyes but rather adaptive coloring.
How you want your letter signed:  Will Parrish

Eyed Elater

Dear Will,
This impressive Click Beetle is appropriately called an Eyed Elater, and you are correct that those “eyes” are not real and are used as protection against predators.

Letter 21 – Eyed Elater

 

Subject:  What is this Texas bug
Geographic location of the bug:  South Central Texas
Date: 08/11/2018
Time: 12:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Would you please identify this bug
How you want your letter signed:  Bug

Eyed Elater

Dear Bug,
No other North American beetle looks quite like the distinctive Eyed Elater.

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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

6 thoughts on “Where Do Eastern Eyed Click Beetles Live: Habitat Guide for Curious Minds”

  1. What part of the US are they most commonly found. I live in the southeast and only saw my first one of these yesterday…..l am 48 yrs old

    Reply

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