Buds N Bugs: What’s gumming up the works?

Alaus oculatus Photo available for purchase

Alaus oculatus

Lois Swoboda
Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 12:33 PM.

Several people have brought one of these attractive insects to me over the last few weeks.

This is the Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus).

Many of us played with smaller species of click beetle as children. All beetles are attracted to lights. If you touch one of these acrobatic creatures, it will flip itself in the air to escape making a loud clicking noise when it does so.

The Eyed Beetle, which is almost two inches long, can launch itself four inches into the air when it clicks.

The prominent false eyespots on the back are to fool predators into thinking the beetle is very large as many simple animals judge the size of potential prey by the size of the eyes. This is the reason for eyespots found on the wings of many moths and butterflies.

Eyed Beetles eat very little as adults but the larvae called wireworms are ferocious predators of other insect and an asset to any garden. Found under logs and other dark, damp places, the two-inch Alaus oculatus larva looks like a stocky, yellowish-brown, segmented worm. It has a flat, dark brown rectangular head that ends in two powerful jaws. The jaws, which resemble small crab legs, are used to disable and dismember prey.

This makes the Eyed Beetle unusual as most wireworms eat plants and can be serious garden pests.

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