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Eastern Eyed Click Beetle,Alaus oculatus (Linnaeus) This beetle is found in the eastern region of the united states NY, NJ, Connecticut.
Eastern Eyed Click Beetle
Click beetles are elongated, parallel-sided and usually bear backward projections on the side corners of the shield behind the head (pronotum). They are somewhat flattened and range in size and color by species. Smaller species are about 1/4 inches long. Most species are brown to black in color, although some have reddish and yellowish colors and patterns.
The eyed click beetle, reaches 1-Â˝ inches in length and is beautifully marked with prominent oval eye spots on the pronotum and mottled gray wing covers. When placed on their backs, these beetles characteristically â€śclickâ€ť, snapping their thoracic segments (prothorax and mesothorax) to cause their bodies to flip in the air to right themselves. Larvae, called â€świreworms,â€ť are usually hard-bodied, brownish, Â˝ to 2-Â˝ inch long and cylindrical, with three pairs of tiny true legs behind the head and a flattened, and an ornamented shield-like segment on the tail end of the body.
Click beetles also process a secret weapon which is guaranteed to startle both naturalists and predators alike. When threatened, a beetleâ€™s first line of defense is to release its grip from what it is climbing on, drop to the ground, and lie motionless and upside down until the danger passes. (This is typical of most beetles, and gardeners are well aware of this strategy if they have ever done battle with the Colorado potato beetle.) However, instead of playing dead as its cousins do, the click beetle arches its body and launches itself repeatedly into the air with an audible â€śclick.â€ť Often it jumps as high as six inches. When it feels secure, the beetle scurries off to safety.
Predators may well be intimidated by this frantic behavior, although as you might suspect, cats find it rather entertaining. Click beetles are primarily vegetarians, feeding on roots and tubers. Some of the 800-species found in North American are among our most harmful crop pests, spending up to six years as â€świrewormâ€ť larva in the soil. However our friend, the big-eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatis) is benign, spending its larval stage in decaying logs while hunting wood-boring beetles.
Life Cycle: he adults reach a length of 24 to 45 mm. The photographs below illustrate why these beetles are so striking. The large â€śfalse eyesâ€ť on the pronotum of adults are characteristic of this genus. Presumably these spots have some selective value in frightening a would-be predator. The true eyes are much smaller and are located on the head anterior to the â€śfalse eyes.â€ť Both Florida species have a mottled pattern on the dorsal surface created by minute scales. These patterns are variable but similar to those shown in the photographs and are effective in concealment.
Damage: Grubs feed on the roots of the grass and heavy infestations will loosen the sod so that it can be rolled back. The damage will appear as irregular patches of yellowed or dead grass. June beetle grubs feed on grass roots for three years before becoming adults. The first year grubs grow up to 13 mm long and produce little damage. The second year, they are 20 mm long, and damage becomes more apparent.This second year is the best time to control grubs since damage usually is not extensive, and an insecticide will be effective. Control for grubs is desirable when there are more than 4 grubs/sq. ft. The third year, the grubs grow to 25 mm long and damage becomes very apparent, particularly in July and August.
Eastern Eyed Click Beetle
Control: There are many other less spectacular types of click beetles â€“ about 8,000 species worldwide. Most of those in our region are smaller ands less striking that the big-eyed, but all have the distinctive clicking mechanism. Search for them on summer evenings â€“ they are often found with other insects that collect around your porch light!Big eyed click beetles and â€świrewormâ€ť larvae. By forcing the thoracic spine on its underside into a resistant socket in the abdomen, a sudden snap results. This miniature shock wave passes through the body to the wing covers and the resultant force launches the beetle into the air.
In their Lilliputian world, the oversized eye-spots suggest a creature larger and more menacing than the harmless click beetle. Perhaps to a hungry predator, the jumping beetle looks serpent-like and dangerous as it snaps and rears up when threatened.
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