Xenomelanophila miranda is Stump-F*%#er

Subject: Resubmission of bark beetle
Location: Central Oregon, near the town of Bend
August 2, 2012 4:17 pm
I just changed my email address, so I’m resubmitting my picture of what I think is some kind of bark beetle.
Signature: Ken Sweetman

Xenomelanophila miranda, a Metallic Borer Beetle

Hi Ken,
Thank you for resubmitting your identification request.  We are positively thrilled to post your photo.  We recognized this colorful beetle as a member of the family Buprestidae, commonly called Jewel Beetles or Metallic Borer Beetles, but is wasn’t until we identified it on BugGuide as
Xenomelanophila miranda, a species that fire fighters call the Stump F*%#er according to Doug Yanega, that we got excited.  The larvae feed on the wood of juniper, but according to BugGuide:  “This beetle only oviposits in smoldering wood, meaning it is only seen during forest fires – a place where one rarely finds entomologists. Firefighters know them by a fairly colorful name; “stumpf***ers”. They have special infrared sensors on their bellies to home in on the hot spots.”  This is a new species for our site and a marvelous addition to our archive.  Out of curiosity, was there a fire nearby? 

Although I found the beetle on a wheelbarrow I use to carry firewood (which in my case is pine), there haven’t been any fires out here that I’m aware of. But I am in the middle of a large juniper forest.

Thanks for the additional information Ken.  Has it been hotter and drier than usual in your area?  Often beetles that have wood boring larvae will live in the larval stage for many years.  There are even cases where beetle larvae in milled lumber have emerged as many as fifty years after the wood working was done.  The reason we asked if it was hot and dry is that those would be ideal forest fire conditions.  Perhaps the beetles emerge when conditions are right for fires and if the beetles get lucky, a fire would create the perfect habitat for procreating.

Anyway, it has been quite a while since it’s rained here, much like most of the rest of the country. And by the way, the wheelbarrow the beetle was on was leaned up against a juniper tree, but the tree never has been burned.

Ed. Note:  August 8, 2012
Upon trying to clear up some old unidentified postings, we discovered this Wasp Moth that involved a query about it being a Stump F***er, and we can’t help but wonder if the person that gave Joni that ID was a fire fighter.

Update:  August 22, 2012
Hi again—
Just to let you know, we just had a fire a couple of days ago, several weeks after I initially saw the beetle. Interesting.

Thanks for the update Ken.  Perhaps you will see more now that conditions are right.

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