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American Oil Beetle, are a family of beetles. This species, Meloe proscarabaeus is bluish black in colour with a long swollen abdomen, which is particularly pronounced in females when they are producing eggs. Females are usually much bigger than males.
American Oil Beetle
In arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented to a degree (but not visibly in most spiders). In crustacea (e.g. crabs) some of the limbs attach to the abdomen; in insects the limbs are attached to the thorax (the part of the body nearest to the head) and not the abdomen. In vertebrates the abdomen is the part of the body that contains the internal organs (except the heart and lungs).
american Oil beetles are flightless as they lack significant wings and shell covering that appears as though a series of overlapping plates. Antenna are visible on the head. The insect can appear as a dull black or in some cases a shiney black or dark blue. These particular beetles do not fly and are slow movers.
Life Cycle: Oil beetles have some of the most extraordinary life cycles of any UK insect. They are parasitic on various species of ground nesting solitary bees. The female lays lots of eggs to ensure that at least some larvae will make it to an adult stage.
Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce. Organisms that derives food from, and live in or on, another living organism at the host’s expense. Pupation is the the process of forming a pupa, the stage in an insect’s development when huge changes occur that reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.
American Oil Beetle
Adult oil beetles can live for up to five months and feed on the leaves of various plants such as grasses, buttercup and lesser celandine. Female oil beetles are considerably bigger than males and become much larger when carrying eggs. The females excavate a small burrow or burrows in sandy soil near nesting aggregations of solitary mining bees and lay up to 1000 eggs! Eggs hatch and the oil beetle larvae – called triangulins – emerge to coincide with the emergence of the bee hosts.
Damage:Under normal circumstances, damage from leaf beetles although unsightly, is not detrimental to tree health. However, in some cases damage from these pests may severely stress trees/shrubs and even cause death. This is most common when very young trees, recently transplanted trees, and/or trees that are under stress from other factors (i.e. insects, diseases, environmental) are involved. These additional factors are often producing stress that combined with leaf defoliation, leads to plant demise. Even with healthy trees, several years of repeated, heavy defoliations can severely stress a tree. Again, these instances are uncommon and aesthetic injury is most often the only problem.
A common nuisance produced by the elm leaf beetle is its habit of seeking overwintering shelter in homes during the fall. These beetles won’t reproduce indoors, bite, or feed on food or clothing. They can be physically removed using a vacuum cleaner if populations are heavy. No chemical controls are suggested.
Controls:Whether control is needed for aesthetic or health reasons, several options are available. Conventional pesticides such as carbaryl (Sevin), chlorpyrifos (Dursban) and acephate (Orthene) are very effective. Environmentally sound alternatives to conventional pesticides such as the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis var. tenebrionis (M-Trak®) are also effective. Regardless of the material used, applications should be made to the foliage as soon as eggs hatch while larvae are still small. Older larvae are more difficult to kill and produce more damage than when they are young. Thorough coverage is essential to obtain adequate control.
American Oil Beetle Damage
“Trunk banding” is a commonly suggested control technique for elm leaf beetle. The beetle’s habit of crawling down the trunk after feeding makes it vulnerable to insecticide applications. Insecticides applied to the trunk prior to this migration will result in killing the larvae before they reach pupation sites near the soil. This method of control has positive and negative aspects, but overall is probably not a very efficient means of controlling elm leaf beetle. Advantages to this method are ease of application and safety through reduced pesticide drift and quantities.
The drawback is that it won’t prevent foliage damage by the first generation beetles. Because the insecticide kills larvae as they migrate after feeding, trees will sustain feeding damage. However, second generation feeding will be reduced through fewer adults emerging from the first generation. This approach is useful if you have an isolated elm tree and are not concerned about defoliation by first generation beetles. If, however, there are many elms in the area, second generation adult beetles from other trees (unless also treated) can fly to and feed on any elm in the area.
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