Where Do Jewel Beetles Live: Exploring Their Fascinating Habitats

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Jewel beetles, known for their stunning, iridescent colors, are fascinating creatures that call various habitats home. Curious about where these beautiful insects reside? You’ve come to the right place.

These eye-catching beetles can be found in diverse environments such as forests, grasslands, and wetlands. They typically thrive in warm regions, so you are likely to encounter them in tropical, subtropical, and some temperate zones.

An interesting aspect of their habitat choice is their relationship with plants. Jewel beetles often rely on specific types of trees, like Eucalyptus, for feeding and reproducing. This close connection with certain plant species makes their living environment crucial for their survival. So, if you’re hoping to spot one of these vibrant insects, keep an eye out for their preferred plant habitats.

What Are Jewel Beetles?

Jewel beetles, also known as Buprestidae, are a family of beetles belonging to the order Coleoptera. They are a diverse group, boasting over 15,500 species and 775 genera. This makes them one of the largest and most diverse families in the beetle world.

The name “jewel beetle” comes from their striking appearance. These beetles are often adorned with vibrant colors and a metallic sheen, resembling precious gems. The family Buprestidae contains a wide range of species, each with its own unique appearance and characteristics. Here are some common features of jewel beetles:

  • Bright, iridescent colors
  • Metallic appearance
  • Bullet-shaped body

Jewel beetles can be found all over the world, making them a truly global family of beetles. They have adapted to different habitats, depending on the species. Some examples of common jewel beetles include:

  • The metallic wood-boring beetles, which are found in various habitats but usually prefer areas with an abundance of wood where their larvae can tunnel and feed.
  • The Green June beetle, which is native to the United States and can be seen buzzing around in gardens and yards during the warmer months.

So, if you ever come across a shiny, colorful beetle that catches your eye, there’s a good chance it belongs to the stunning family of jewel beetles. Just remember to appreciate their beauty from a distance, as some species can cause damage to plants and wood.

Physical Characteristics

Color and Iridescence

Jewel beetles are known for their stunning iridescent colors. Their exoskeleton, or outer shell, can range from green to glossy and metallic shades. The colors on their head, thorax, and elytra create an almost jewelry-like appearance, giving them their name. The iridescent colors help them blend in with their surroundings and attract mates.

Size and Patterns

Variations in size and patterns among jewel beetles are vast, with over 15,500 different species found around the world. Although size varies among species, typically, adult jewel beetles can be found in sizes ranging from 3mm to 100mm.

Some features that remain consistent across species are the:

  • Chitinous shell: A hard, protective covering
  • Serrate antennae: Having a saw-like pattern

Unique Features

Some distinguishing characteristics of jewel beetles include:

  • Head: Large, well-developed eyes suited for color recognition
  • Wings: Two pairs, the front pair being called elytra, providing protection and color
  • Exoskeleton: Strong and damage-tolerant due to vertical micropillar reinforcements

Additionally, jewel beetles possess unique genes that allow them to see ultraviolet light, giving them an advantage in finding mates and host plants.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Jewel beetles, or Buprestidae, are a diverse family with over 15,500 different species. They can be found all over the world, particularly in forests and woodlands. Their diet varies depending on their life stage.

As larvae, jewel beetles primarily feed on plant materials like leaves and stems. Many species bore into the wood of trees and shrubs, where they consume the internal tissue. For example, some jewel beetle larvae tunnel into the bark of eucalyptus trees in Australia.

Adult jewel beetles, on the other hand, have a more varied diet. They are known to feed on plant foliage, nectar from flowers, and pollen. This allows them to consume a range of nutrients, making them more adaptable to their environment.

Here’s a quick comparison of the diet and feeding habits of jewel beetle larvae and adults:

Life Stage Diet
Larvae Plant materials like leaves and stems
Adults Plant foliage, nectar, and pollen from flowers

To recap, jewel beetles have different diets depending on their development stage. Larvae primarily feed on plant materials like leaves and stems, while adults consume plant foliage, nectar, and pollen. By understanding the dietary needs of jewel beetles in each stage, we can better ensure their survival and appreciation for their beauty and ecological importance.

Lifecycle and Reproduction

Egg Stage

Jewel beetles typically lay their eggs on the host plants they prefer. As an example, some species lay their eggs underneath the bark of trees. The eggs are small and can be hard to spot. During the egg stage, which lasts about a week, the developing larvae consume the yolk inside the eggs for nourishment.

Larval and Pupal Stage

The larval stage of jewel beetles is where the most growth occurs. Larvae, also known as grubs, bore into the host plant or tree, feeding on its wood or foliage. This stage can last from several months to a few years, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

  • Complete metamorphosis: Jewel beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, meaning they pass through egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages in their life cycle.

At the end of the larval stage, the grubs form a chamber inside the host plant and transform into pupae. The pupal stage typically lasts for 2-3 weeks, during which the beetle undergoes a significant transformation into its adult form.

  • Delayed emergence: Some jewel beetles may exhibit delayed emergence, remaining in their pupal chamber for an extended period, waiting for ideal conditions before emerging as adults.

Adult Phase

Once the transformation into the adult phase is complete, jewel beetles leave the host plant and embark on their relatively short adult life. The primary goal of the adult beetle is to mate and lay eggs, ensuring the continuation of the species.

Here are some characteristics of adult jewel beetles:

  • Brilliant, metallic colors
  • Usually active during daylight hours
  • Attracted to light
  • Capable of flight
  • Feed on nectar, pollen, or leaves

As adults, jewel beetles often feed on nectar, pollen, or the leaves of host plants. Adult beetles are strong fliers and have a keen sense of smell, helping them locate suitable mates and host plants for laying their eggs.

In summary, the lifecycle and reproduction of jewel beetles involve four stages: egg, larval, pupal, and adult. The complete metamorphosis ensures the beetle undergoes significant transformations in its journey from egg to adult, and may even exhibit delayed emergence to optimize their chances of survival.

General Habitat

Jewel beetles, also known as Buprestidae, have a wide range of habitats. They mainly reside in forests, woodlands, and even gardens. Let’s explore the specific places where you might find them.

Jewel beetles have a close relationship with trees and wood. They are often found on the bark, roots, or within the wood itself. You can commonly spot them in woodlands and forests around the world. Some species prefer:

  • Deciduous forests
  • Coniferous forests
  • Mixed forests

Among the different types of forests, jewel beetles have a unique affinity for burned forests. Forest fires create a suitable environment for them. Many species use dead, burned, or stressed trees as a breeding and feeding ground. For instance, in North America, some jewel beetles inhabit forests affected by the mountain pine beetle outbreak.

In addition to forests, jewel beetles thrive in your garden too. They find shelter in shrubs, grass, and soil. These colorful insects can be a natural part of your garden’s ecosystem, as they assist in breaking down dead trees.

To sum up, jewel beetles inhabit forests, woodlands, and gardens, primarily associating with wood, trees, bark, and roots. Burned forests offer a unique environment for them, while they also contribute to the decomposition of dead trees in natural settings. So, keep an eye out for these tiny, iridescent creatures, as they are an essential part of the ecosystem.

The Jewel Beetles of Australia

Jewel beetles are a fascinating group of insects with over 15,500 different species found worldwide. In Australia alone, there are 1,200 different species, making it a hotspot for these vibrant creatures. These beetles typically reside in forests and woodlands and can often be seen feeding on and flying around flowers.

In Australia, you might come across various native species, such as:

  • Chrysochroa fulminans, known for its striking blue and green metallic coloration.
  • Stigmodera macularia, easily identified by its distinctive yellow and black markings.

It is essential to be aware of the invasive emerald ash borer, a non-native jewel beetle species, as it poses a serious threat to ash trees. This invasive species has yet to establish itself in Australia, but it is crucial to stay vigilant in protecting the region’s unique ecosystems from invaders.

Given the wide range of species found in Australia, there are a few key points of interest for those curious about jewel beetles:

  • They exhibit vibrant, iridescent colors that make them visually striking.
  • They inhabit forests and woodlands, seeking flowers for nourishment.
  • Australia is home to a significant number of species, highlighting its importance as a biodiversity hotspot.

Learning more about the jewel beetles of Australia can provide valuable insights into their role in the ecosystems they inhabit and raise awareness of potential threats, such as the invasive emerald ash borer. By appreciating their beauty and understanding their significance, you can help preserve these remarkable beetles and the habitats they call home.

Economic Impact

Jewel beetles, with their iridescent-like bodies, are attractive insects. However, their impact on the economy can be both positive and negative.

Damage and Pests

These beetles can cause significant economic damage as some species are known to bore into wood, affecting the timber industry. For example:

  • Damage to trees, reducing their commercial value
  • Weakening of wooden structures like furniture or buildings

That said, not all jewel beetles are harmful. Some species may not have any significant impact on the economy.

Collectors and Economic Benefits

On the other hand, jewel beetles also have a positive impact as they are popular among insect collectors. Their vibrant colors and patterns make them highly sought-after, providing economic opportunities for dealers and collectors in the following ways:

  • Sale of specimens for private collections
  • Use in jewelry, artwork, and other decorative pieces

In summary, jewel beetles’ economic impact can be both detrimental and beneficial, depending on the species and how they interact with our economy.

Threats and Predators

Jewel beetles are known for their beautiful, iridescent colors, making them a favorite among insect collectors. However, they face various threats and predators throughout their life cycle.

In their larval stage, jewel beetles live within wood or under tree bark. At this stage, their main predators are birds and mammals that can access the larvae, such as woodpeckers. Additionally, some specialized insects, such as parasitic wasps, may target jewel beetle larvae.

As adults, jewel beetles are preyed upon by birds, spiders, and other insects such as preying mantises. Because of their brightly colored exoskeleton, they may be more visible to these predators.

Besides natural predators, jewel beetles also face threats from habitat destruction and fragmentation, which can make it difficult for them to locate suitable host plants for laying eggs. Furthermore, the use of insecticides in agricultural practices can pose another significant hazard to their populations.

Here are some notable threats and predators of jewel beetles in a friendly and concise format:

  • Birds (e.g., woodpeckers, insectivorous birds)
  • Mammals (e.g., those that can access larvae under tree bark)
  • Insects (e.g., parasitic wasps, preying mantises, spiders)
  • Habitat destruction and fragmentation
  • Agricultural insecticides

In summary, jewel beetles encounter various predators and challenges throughout their lifecycle. By understanding and addressing these threats, we can help protect these remarkable insects and their valuable role in the ecosystem.

Cultural Significance and Uses

Jewel beetles are highly valued by collectors for their stunning iridescent colors and unique body shapes. These beautiful beetles are often collected and traded in various circles, making them a sought-after item for insect enthusiasts.

Their brilliant appearance has also captured the attention of the arts and crafts markets. Jewel beetles are used in jewelry creation and other decorative purposes. For example, their wings are carefully utilized in designing handmade accessories like earrings or unique brooches, adding a touch of natural elegance to the pieces.

When it comes to insect collectors, the wide variety of over 15,500 species of jewel beetles offers a rich collection base. These distinctive creatures are an attractive addition to any entomologist’s exhibit, showcasing the vivid colors and diverse patterns found within this particular beetle family.

It’s important to remember that while these beetles are appreciated for their beauty, responsible collecting and sustainable practices should be followed. Ensuring a balance between admiration and preservation is key to preserving their natural habitats and continuing to marvel at their stunning appearance.

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 – Jewel Beetle from Spain

 

Subject: bug spain malaga
Location: Andalucia, Mijas, Spain
September 1, 2016 1:54 am
Dear Bugman,
Maybe you could help me identifying this bug, I have no idea where to look for first.
photographed two weeks in july. Southern Spain, Malaga.
There where more than one in between two wooden beams of a Pinewood bench.
Thanks in advance
Signature: Perry

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Dear Perry,
This is a Metallic Borer or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We cannot say for certain to which species it belongs, but you can see some Spanish Buprestids on the Living Jewels European Buprestidae Blog that were documented in Spain in June 2013.

Letter 2 – Jewel Beetle: Red Legged Buprestis

 

Colorful Beatle in S.E. PA
July 24, 2009
I found this beautiful bug in my garden, and I almost thought it was fake until it flew to one of my plants. I have never seen anything like it, the detailing was amazing, One picture is of the underneath and one from above. Thanks!
Sandra Diprojetto
Southeast PA, USA

Red Legged Buprestis
Red Legged Buprestis

Hi Sandra,
This Metallic Wood Boring Beetle or Jewel Beetle is the Red Legged Buprestis, Buprestis rufipes.  This is a magnificent beetle that is found in eastern North America.  The larvae feed on the wood of maple and birch trees.  You can look at higher resolution images on BugGuide.

Red Legged Buprestis
Red Legged Buprestis

Letter 3 – Jewel Beetle Pupa found inside Australian tree

 

Wattle-killer
Location: Perth Hills, Western Australia
May 24, 2011 5:22 am
Hi Bugfolk,
A friend pointed me to your site after seeing the attached photos.
I cut down a large dead wattle about two years ago and found these holes and exoskeletons. I’ve shown them to a few people, but not managed to find out what it is. To add to the challenge, the photo isn’t what the bug would have looked like when it was alive!
My note on the photo identifies the remains as about 8cm long (+/- 2cm).
Any identification or pointers you could provide would be really welcome!
Signature: James

Pupa of a Borer Beetle

Dear James,
This is a beetle pupa from the family Buprestidae, a group that is commonly collectively called the Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles.  There are many Australian species and some are quite host specific.  We cannot provide a species name.

Wattle Tree with Borer Damage

Letter 4 – Jewel Beetle: possibly Buprestis gibbsii

 

Metallic beetle (?)
Location: Gold Run, CA
August 28, 2011 7:32 pm
My husband thinks this is a bottlefly, but I told him I think only beetles have a carapace over the wings. Help!!! Bright metallic green abdomen, striped blue/green, yellow and red metallic carapace. Head missing, found in Sierra Nevada mountains north of Auburn, CA. THANKS AGAIN BUGMAN!
Signature: WBarker

Jewel Beetle: Buprestis gibbsii

Dear WBarker,
This is one of the Metallic Borer Beetles in the family Buprestidae.  Some members of the family have bright metallic coloration leading to the common name Jewel Beetles.  We believe we have identified your species as
Buprestis gibbsii based on a few photos posted to BugGuide.

Letter 5 – Jewel Beetle: Red Legged Buprestis

 

Subject: metallic green and yellow beetle
Location: Harpers Ferry, WV
September 11, 2013 7:09 am
Hi Guys,
We saw this beautiful bug crawling around on our fireplace at the beginning of September. We’re in Harpers Ferry, WV on the Blue Ridge Mtn. We all love your site and refer to it often when trying to id a bug we find. Couldn’t find this one though.
Thanks for your help!
Signature: Bug loving family

Red Legged Buprestis
Red Legged Buprestis

Dear Bug Loving Family,
Your lovely Jewel Beetle is a Red Legged Buprestis,
Buprestis rufipes.

 

Letter 6 – Jewel Beetle from Pakistan

 

Subject: What is the name of this beautiful bug
Location: Naran valley, Pakistan
May 28, 2014 12:44 am
This is a bug, I saw in Naran Pakistan. Can you please tell me the name of this bug? I am attaching the image of the bug for your analysis. Please tell me if you identify the bug.
Thank you!
Zohaib.
Signature: For analysis

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Dear Zohaib,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  The larvae bore in the wood of trees and shrubs, and most species of Jewel Beetle have specific host plants rather than feeding indiscriminately.  We will attempt to identify your beetle to the species or at least genus level.

Letter 7 – Jewel Beetle Pendant

 

Subject: Shiny Green Bug
Location: unknown
August 4, 2014 10:33 am
We recently moved into a house and my daughter found this in her closet. It has been encased for preservation as a novelty but she won’t stop bugging me until I can tell her about the bug. Can you please help at least identify the bug in question so I can do some research it for her. I would appreciate any light you can shed on this!
Signature: Getting Bugged about a Bug

Jewel Beetle Pendant
Jewel Beetle Pendant

Dear Getting Bugged about a Bug,
Your daughter is going to love this.  This appears to be a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  Interestingly, we believe we may have identified the species, or at least a close relative.  This looks like
Chrysochroa saundersi from Thailand, which we found pictued on Shutterstock.  We then located a top and bottom view on The Siam Insect-Zoo & Museum site and that was proof enough for us as it is a near perfect match to the images you provided.  Additionally, Asia is ground zero for the importation of insects embedded in lucite.  Jewel Beetles have been used to make jewelry since at least Victorian times, and this image of a necklace made from the elytra or wings of Jewel Beetles that is pictured on Econe is quite stunning, though we don’t condone the modern use of beetles for decorative purposes.

Jewel Beetle Pendant
Jewel Beetle Pendant

Thank you very much.  She will be thrilled!  You guys are awesome!

Letter 8 – Jewel Beetle on Acacia from New Mexico

 

Subject: Black & Yellow Beetle in SE New Mexico
Location: Southeaster New Mexico
October 4, 2015 4:52 pm
I found this on my walk this morning (October 3, 2015) on a nature trail on the outskirts of town in southeastern New Mexico. It was in the 90’s last week but has been cool and rainy the last few days. He / She did not look familiar. Every time I tried to get a close up, it would circle to the far side of the branch. It is black and yellow on its shield-shaped back with black and yellow bands on its underside. I searched your site and BugFinder for black and yellow beetles, but I didn’t find any that seemed to match. I love your site and the story behind it. Thanks for putting in all the time and effort.
Signature: Curious

Jewel Beetle: Gyascutus caelatus
Jewel Beetle: Gyascutus caelatus

Dear Curious,
We located this image on BugGuide that matches your Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle from the family Buprestidae.  The posting states that the collector:  “gave the specimen to New Mexico State University as they only had three of this species.”  Your individual was found on an Acacia, and according to BugGuide:  “Larval host unknown, adults on Acacia, Prosopis.”  This really is a beautiful Jewel Beetle and your observations indicate that the species has excellent eyesight.

Jewel Beetle: Gyascutus caelatus
Jewel Beetle: Gyascutus caelatus

I found your response on the website. Thank you, again, for your work. It was a kick to learn that I was probably right when I thought the beetle was unusual, if NMSU only had three in its collection. I found and photographed another bug on that same walk, but I am still looking online to see if I can identify it, If I can’t, I may forward it to you for your assistance.

We apologize if we did not write back to you directly as that is our usual method of responding upon posting a submission.

No apology necessary!  I knew to look on the website and found my submission there faster than I thought I would.  I am surprisingly proud that I found an unusual specimen (and I’m even happier I did not find the human louse as did someone else whose picture was posted on the same day as mine).  I just wanted to say thank you and didn’t know how to post directly to the website.  My technical knowledge is too antique to figure that out, so I responded directly to your email.  My apologies if I confused you.
I still haven’t had any luck finding the other bug I photographed on the same walk, so I will probably submit that, too.

Letter 9 – Jewel Beetle from Saudi Arabia

 

Subject: Beetle
Location: 25.6476206516667,45.8937318516667
March 5, 2016 5:24 am
Hello Bugman
I found this beetle in central Saudi Arabia. It seemed quite large, nearly 2 inches.
Thanks for your time.
Signature: Peter

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Dear Peter,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We located an image identified only by family on FlickR that looks very similar, and following up on that we found an image on FlickR identified as
Julodis speculifer dicksonae, also found in Saudi Arabia.  Continued research indicates there are many similar looking species in the genus based on this FlickRiver page, so while we are quite confident we have the correct family and genus Julodis, we cannot provide a definitive species identification.

Dear Daniel
Many thanks for your fast response.
I looked at a few of the beetles on Flickr that you linked to and I think it looks most like this one:
Julodis iris Laporte & Gory 1835
View on www.flickr.com
It’s called J. iris and it may be relevant that it was found among the wild iris fields there, flowering at just this time of year!
Best wishes
Peter

Letter 10 – Jewel Beetle

 

Subject: Colorado bug
Location: Longmont, CO
July 6, 2016 3:35 pm
Found this bug in my shirt collar. Yuck!
Signature: Matt

Jewel Beetle: Buprestis confluenta
Jewel Beetle: Buprestis confluenta

Dear Matt,
We believe we have correctly identified your Jewel Beetle on BugGuide as
Buprestis confluenta.  Your Jewel Beetle appeared right on schedule because according to BugGuide, they appear:  “Primarily July (per pix posted here).”  According to Beetles in the Bush:  “B. confluenta is downright stunning! Brilliant green, perhaps with a slight coppery brown to purplish blue hue and with more or less confluent (thus the species name) fine yellow flecks densely scattered over the elytra, it is one of the easiest to identify of any species in the genus.”  We somehow feel your “Yuck!” comment is a tad bit harsh.

Letter 11 – Jewel Beetle: Sculptured Pine Borer in genus Chalcophora

 

Subject: beetle?
Location: Ruffin, sc
April 13, 2017 4:13 am
This insect flew in my daughters hair while we were walking around outside. It is kind of hard to tell by the picture but the color was gold. Thank you for your time and hope you have a great day.
Signature: Melissa

Sculptured Pine Borer

Dear Melissa,
Because of the metallic coloration of many members of the family Buprestidae, they are known as Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles.  Your individual is one of the Sculptured Pine Borers in the genus
Chalcophora.  Based on BugGuide images, we suspect it might be the Southern Sculptured Pine Borer, Chalcophora georgiana, or the the Sculptured Pine Borer, Chalcophora virginiensis, also pictured on BugGuide.  The former is described on BugGuide as being:  “coppery green, can be easily separated by the acute elytral apex with a strong sutural spine; displays very little variation.”

Sculptured PIne Borer

Letter 12 – Jewel Beetle from India

 

Subject:  identify the name
Geographic location of the bug:  India gujarat
Date: 09/12/2017
Time: 10:06 AM EDT
please identify the bug. I have never seen such a bug
How you want your letter signed:  sagar

Jewel Beetle: Sternocera species

Dear Sagar,
This is a Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We believe we have correctly identified it as being in the genus
Sternocera thanks to this 123RF stock agency image.  Coleoptera Atlas has an image of
Sternocera chrisis that looks quite similar.

Letter 13 – Jewel Beetle from Tanzania may be Steraspis speciosa

 

Subject:  Jewel Beetle Tanzania
Geographic location of the bug:  West Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Date: 01/14/2018
Time: 05:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Could you tell me what species as well as common name this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Doug

Jewel Beetle from Tanzania

Dear Doug,
We believe we can identify your beetle as a member of the genus
Steraspis.  Our first clue is this image from Zimbabwe posted to FlickR that is identified only as Steraspis species.  We have a similar looking Jewel Beetle from Jordan which we identified as Steraspis squamosa.  We found a mention in the online book “Forest Entomology in East Africa:  Forest Insects of Tanzania” that includes a mention of Steraspis speciosa fastuosa stating “This borer was observed gumming eggs onto the bark of Elaeodendron and Cassia fistula and larvae were boring directly into the wood causing much exudation of gums in the former.”  We searched for images of Steraspis speciosa fastuosa and found this Facebook posting from Insect Art of collected individuals and the note that “they weren’t nearly as metallic as the ones I get from this guy in Africa.”  We found a posting on jcringerbach.free of Steraspis squamosa that looks very similar, but the range is listed as “Sahara north of Sahel from Red Sea to Mauritania. Algeria, Morocco, Fazzan, Egypt, Syria” so it makes sense that a similar looking member of the genus might be found in sub-Saharan Africa.  Jcringenbach.free also has images of Steraspis speciosa and the range is listed as “Saharan Algeria and Morocco, Fazzan, Egypt, Arabia and tropical Africa to Mozambic” and since Mozambique is south of Tanzania, we presume it is part of the range.  The food plants listed are “Acacia nilotica and tortilis” and the plant in your image looks like an Acacia.  So we are relatively confident your beetle is in the genus Steraspis, and it might be Steraspis speciosa, and there is no common name we could locate except the general family name of Jewel Beetle.

Letter 14 – Jewel Beetle is Red Legged Buprestis

 

Subject:  What is this bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Fort Washington, Maryland
Date: 06/24/2021
Time: 04:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, I found this bug in my living room and it’s vibrant green and yellow caught me attention. It has a green body as well with yellow spots and brown towards the tail
How you want your letter signed:  V

Red Legged Buprestis

Dear V,
This beauty is a Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  It is a Red Legged Buprestis and your ventral view nicely shows the reddish legs.

Red Legged Buprestis

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 – Jewel Beetle from Spain

 

Subject: bug spain malaga
Location: Andalucia, Mijas, Spain
September 1, 2016 1:54 am
Dear Bugman,
Maybe you could help me identifying this bug, I have no idea where to look for first.
photographed two weeks in july. Southern Spain, Malaga.
There where more than one in between two wooden beams of a Pinewood bench.
Thanks in advance
Signature: Perry

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Dear Perry,
This is a Metallic Borer or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We cannot say for certain to which species it belongs, but you can see some Spanish Buprestids on the Living Jewels European Buprestidae Blog that were documented in Spain in June 2013.

Letter 2 – Jewel Beetle: Red Legged Buprestis

 

Colorful Beatle in S.E. PA
July 24, 2009
I found this beautiful bug in my garden, and I almost thought it was fake until it flew to one of my plants. I have never seen anything like it, the detailing was amazing, One picture is of the underneath and one from above. Thanks!
Sandra Diprojetto
Southeast PA, USA

Red Legged Buprestis
Red Legged Buprestis

Hi Sandra,
This Metallic Wood Boring Beetle or Jewel Beetle is the Red Legged Buprestis, Buprestis rufipes.  This is a magnificent beetle that is found in eastern North America.  The larvae feed on the wood of maple and birch trees.  You can look at higher resolution images on BugGuide.

Red Legged Buprestis
Red Legged Buprestis

Letter 3 – Jewel Beetle Pupa found inside Australian tree

 

Wattle-killer
Location: Perth Hills, Western Australia
May 24, 2011 5:22 am
Hi Bugfolk,
A friend pointed me to your site after seeing the attached photos.
I cut down a large dead wattle about two years ago and found these holes and exoskeletons. I’ve shown them to a few people, but not managed to find out what it is. To add to the challenge, the photo isn’t what the bug would have looked like when it was alive!
My note on the photo identifies the remains as about 8cm long (+/- 2cm).
Any identification or pointers you could provide would be really welcome!
Signature: James

Pupa of a Borer Beetle

Dear James,
This is a beetle pupa from the family Buprestidae, a group that is commonly collectively called the Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles.  There are many Australian species and some are quite host specific.  We cannot provide a species name.

Wattle Tree with Borer Damage

Letter 4 – Jewel Beetle: possibly Buprestis gibbsii

 

Metallic beetle (?)
Location: Gold Run, CA
August 28, 2011 7:32 pm
My husband thinks this is a bottlefly, but I told him I think only beetles have a carapace over the wings. Help!!! Bright metallic green abdomen, striped blue/green, yellow and red metallic carapace. Head missing, found in Sierra Nevada mountains north of Auburn, CA. THANKS AGAIN BUGMAN!
Signature: WBarker

Jewel Beetle: Buprestis gibbsii

Dear WBarker,
This is one of the Metallic Borer Beetles in the family Buprestidae.  Some members of the family have bright metallic coloration leading to the common name Jewel Beetles.  We believe we have identified your species as
Buprestis gibbsii based on a few photos posted to BugGuide.

Letter 5 – Jewel Beetle: Red Legged Buprestis

 

Subject: metallic green and yellow beetle
Location: Harpers Ferry, WV
September 11, 2013 7:09 am
Hi Guys,
We saw this beautiful bug crawling around on our fireplace at the beginning of September. We’re in Harpers Ferry, WV on the Blue Ridge Mtn. We all love your site and refer to it often when trying to id a bug we find. Couldn’t find this one though.
Thanks for your help!
Signature: Bug loving family

Red Legged Buprestis
Red Legged Buprestis

Dear Bug Loving Family,
Your lovely Jewel Beetle is a Red Legged Buprestis,
Buprestis rufipes.

 

Letter 6 – Jewel Beetle from Pakistan

 

Subject: What is the name of this beautiful bug
Location: Naran valley, Pakistan
May 28, 2014 12:44 am
This is a bug, I saw in Naran Pakistan. Can you please tell me the name of this bug? I am attaching the image of the bug for your analysis. Please tell me if you identify the bug.
Thank you!
Zohaib.
Signature: For analysis

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Dear Zohaib,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  The larvae bore in the wood of trees and shrubs, and most species of Jewel Beetle have specific host plants rather than feeding indiscriminately.  We will attempt to identify your beetle to the species or at least genus level.

Letter 7 – Jewel Beetle Pendant

 

Subject: Shiny Green Bug
Location: unknown
August 4, 2014 10:33 am
We recently moved into a house and my daughter found this in her closet. It has been encased for preservation as a novelty but she won’t stop bugging me until I can tell her about the bug. Can you please help at least identify the bug in question so I can do some research it for her. I would appreciate any light you can shed on this!
Signature: Getting Bugged about a Bug

Jewel Beetle Pendant
Jewel Beetle Pendant

Dear Getting Bugged about a Bug,
Your daughter is going to love this.  This appears to be a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  Interestingly, we believe we may have identified the species, or at least a close relative.  This looks like
Chrysochroa saundersi from Thailand, which we found pictued on Shutterstock.  We then located a top and bottom view on The Siam Insect-Zoo & Museum site and that was proof enough for us as it is a near perfect match to the images you provided.  Additionally, Asia is ground zero for the importation of insects embedded in lucite.  Jewel Beetles have been used to make jewelry since at least Victorian times, and this image of a necklace made from the elytra or wings of Jewel Beetles that is pictured on Econe is quite stunning, though we don’t condone the modern use of beetles for decorative purposes.

Jewel Beetle Pendant
Jewel Beetle Pendant

Thank you very much.  She will be thrilled!  You guys are awesome!

Letter 8 – Jewel Beetle on Acacia from New Mexico

 

Subject: Black & Yellow Beetle in SE New Mexico
Location: Southeaster New Mexico
October 4, 2015 4:52 pm
I found this on my walk this morning (October 3, 2015) on a nature trail on the outskirts of town in southeastern New Mexico. It was in the 90’s last week but has been cool and rainy the last few days. He / She did not look familiar. Every time I tried to get a close up, it would circle to the far side of the branch. It is black and yellow on its shield-shaped back with black and yellow bands on its underside. I searched your site and BugFinder for black and yellow beetles, but I didn’t find any that seemed to match. I love your site and the story behind it. Thanks for putting in all the time and effort.
Signature: Curious

Jewel Beetle: Gyascutus caelatus
Jewel Beetle: Gyascutus caelatus

Dear Curious,
We located this image on BugGuide that matches your Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle from the family Buprestidae.  The posting states that the collector:  “gave the specimen to New Mexico State University as they only had three of this species.”  Your individual was found on an Acacia, and according to BugGuide:  “Larval host unknown, adults on Acacia, Prosopis.”  This really is a beautiful Jewel Beetle and your observations indicate that the species has excellent eyesight.

Jewel Beetle: Gyascutus caelatus
Jewel Beetle: Gyascutus caelatus

I found your response on the website. Thank you, again, for your work. It was a kick to learn that I was probably right when I thought the beetle was unusual, if NMSU only had three in its collection. I found and photographed another bug on that same walk, but I am still looking online to see if I can identify it, If I can’t, I may forward it to you for your assistance.

We apologize if we did not write back to you directly as that is our usual method of responding upon posting a submission.

No apology necessary!  I knew to look on the website and found my submission there faster than I thought I would.  I am surprisingly proud that I found an unusual specimen (and I’m even happier I did not find the human louse as did someone else whose picture was posted on the same day as mine).  I just wanted to say thank you and didn’t know how to post directly to the website.  My technical knowledge is too antique to figure that out, so I responded directly to your email.  My apologies if I confused you.
I still haven’t had any luck finding the other bug I photographed on the same walk, so I will probably submit that, too.

Letter 9 – Jewel Beetle from Saudi Arabia

 

Subject: Beetle
Location: 25.6476206516667,45.8937318516667
March 5, 2016 5:24 am
Hello Bugman
I found this beetle in central Saudi Arabia. It seemed quite large, nearly 2 inches.
Thanks for your time.
Signature: Peter

Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle

Dear Peter,
This is a Metallic Borer Beetle or Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We located an image identified only by family on FlickR that looks very similar, and following up on that we found an image on FlickR identified as
Julodis speculifer dicksonae, also found in Saudi Arabia.  Continued research indicates there are many similar looking species in the genus based on this FlickRiver page, so while we are quite confident we have the correct family and genus Julodis, we cannot provide a definitive species identification.

Dear Daniel
Many thanks for your fast response.
I looked at a few of the beetles on Flickr that you linked to and I think it looks most like this one:
Julodis iris Laporte & Gory 1835
View on www.flickr.com
It’s called J. iris and it may be relevant that it was found among the wild iris fields there, flowering at just this time of year!
Best wishes
Peter

Letter 10 – Jewel Beetle

 

Subject: Colorado bug
Location: Longmont, CO
July 6, 2016 3:35 pm
Found this bug in my shirt collar. Yuck!
Signature: Matt

Jewel Beetle: Buprestis confluenta
Jewel Beetle: Buprestis confluenta

Dear Matt,
We believe we have correctly identified your Jewel Beetle on BugGuide as
Buprestis confluenta.  Your Jewel Beetle appeared right on schedule because according to BugGuide, they appear:  “Primarily July (per pix posted here).”  According to Beetles in the Bush:  “B. confluenta is downright stunning! Brilliant green, perhaps with a slight coppery brown to purplish blue hue and with more or less confluent (thus the species name) fine yellow flecks densely scattered over the elytra, it is one of the easiest to identify of any species in the genus.”  We somehow feel your “Yuck!” comment is a tad bit harsh.

Letter 11 – Jewel Beetle: Sculptured Pine Borer in genus Chalcophora

 

Subject: beetle?
Location: Ruffin, sc
April 13, 2017 4:13 am
This insect flew in my daughters hair while we were walking around outside. It is kind of hard to tell by the picture but the color was gold. Thank you for your time and hope you have a great day.
Signature: Melissa

Sculptured Pine Borer

Dear Melissa,
Because of the metallic coloration of many members of the family Buprestidae, they are known as Metallic Borer Beetles or Jewel Beetles.  Your individual is one of the Sculptured Pine Borers in the genus
Chalcophora.  Based on BugGuide images, we suspect it might be the Southern Sculptured Pine Borer, Chalcophora georgiana, or the the Sculptured Pine Borer, Chalcophora virginiensis, also pictured on BugGuide.  The former is described on BugGuide as being:  “coppery green, can be easily separated by the acute elytral apex with a strong sutural spine; displays very little variation.”

Sculptured PIne Borer

Letter 12 – Jewel Beetle from India

 

Subject:  identify the name
Geographic location of the bug:  India gujarat
Date: 09/12/2017
Time: 10:06 AM EDT
please identify the bug. I have never seen such a bug
How you want your letter signed:  sagar

Jewel Beetle: Sternocera species

Dear Sagar,
This is a Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  We believe we have correctly identified it as being in the genus
Sternocera thanks to this 123RF stock agency image.  Coleoptera Atlas has an image of
Sternocera chrisis that looks quite similar.

Letter 13 – Jewel Beetle from Tanzania may be Steraspis speciosa

 

Subject:  Jewel Beetle Tanzania
Geographic location of the bug:  West Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Date: 01/14/2018
Time: 05:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Could you tell me what species as well as common name this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Doug

Jewel Beetle from Tanzania

Dear Doug,
We believe we can identify your beetle as a member of the genus
Steraspis.  Our first clue is this image from Zimbabwe posted to FlickR that is identified only as Steraspis species.  We have a similar looking Jewel Beetle from Jordan which we identified as Steraspis squamosa.  We found a mention in the online book “Forest Entomology in East Africa:  Forest Insects of Tanzania” that includes a mention of Steraspis speciosa fastuosa stating “This borer was observed gumming eggs onto the bark of Elaeodendron and Cassia fistula and larvae were boring directly into the wood causing much exudation of gums in the former.”  We searched for images of Steraspis speciosa fastuosa and found this Facebook posting from Insect Art of collected individuals and the note that “they weren’t nearly as metallic as the ones I get from this guy in Africa.”  We found a posting on jcringerbach.free of Steraspis squamosa that looks very similar, but the range is listed as “Sahara north of Sahel from Red Sea to Mauritania. Algeria, Morocco, Fazzan, Egypt, Syria” so it makes sense that a similar looking member of the genus might be found in sub-Saharan Africa.  Jcringenbach.free also has images of Steraspis speciosa and the range is listed as “Saharan Algeria and Morocco, Fazzan, Egypt, Arabia and tropical Africa to Mozambic” and since Mozambique is south of Tanzania, we presume it is part of the range.  The food plants listed are “Acacia nilotica and tortilis” and the plant in your image looks like an Acacia.  So we are relatively confident your beetle is in the genus Steraspis, and it might be Steraspis speciosa, and there is no common name we could locate except the general family name of Jewel Beetle.

Letter 14 – Jewel Beetle is Red Legged Buprestis

 

Subject:  What is this bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Fort Washington, Maryland
Date: 06/24/2021
Time: 04:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, I found this bug in my living room and it’s vibrant green and yellow caught me attention. It has a green body as well with yellow spots and brown towards the tail
How you want your letter signed:  V

Red Legged Buprestis

Dear V,
This beauty is a Jewel Beetle in the family Buprestidae.  It is a Red Legged Buprestis and your ventral view nicely shows the reddish legs.

Red Legged Buprestis

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.

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.

Reader Emails

93279

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 – Immature Jewel Bugs from Tasmania

 

Subject:  Name of bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Geilston Bay, Tasmania, Australia
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I wonder if you could tell me what kind of bug this is? They range in size from not much bigger than a pinhead to about 5 mms. I only see them for a short period in summer. Usually in small clusters on the road, though this year I have noticed them in the vegetation on the roadside. I have never seen them anywhere except this one small section (approximately 15 ft) of road. Thanks so much for your time
How you want your letter signed:  Ruth Gooding

Immature Jewel Bugs

Dear Ruth,
These are immature Shield Bugs in the family Scutellaridae, and because many members of the family have bright metallic colors, they are frequently called Jewel Bugs.  We located a nearly identical image on FlickR from Tasmania that identifies the species as
Choerocoris paganus creche.  The tripart name stands for genus, species and subspecies.  We found additional information on the genus and species from Australia, which leads us to believe the subspecies C. p. creche is a Tasmanian subspecies.  Geographically isolated populations often form subspecies, and with the passage of time, they might even become distinct species.  The Atlas of Living Australia calls the species the Ground Shield Bug, and the Brisbane Insect site calls it the Red Jewel Bug.  According to Jungle Dragon:  “Adults and nymphs feed primarily on the sappy contents of seeds of hop-bush (Dodonaea viscosa), including those which have fallen to the ground.”

Immature Jewel Bugs

Authors

  • 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
Tags: Jewel Beetle

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