Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eyed Click Beetle

One of our campers, Kayla, found a click beetle at our playground roving around in the mulch. It was given the name "Fredward" and is the camp mascot for this week. An amazing creature, "Fredward" is an Eyed Click Beetle, Alaus oculatus. Its unique coloration is black, speckled with white and grey. The giant eyes located on the back of the thorax are not true eyes, but false eyespots used to confuse predators. Its true eyes are fairly small and located at the base of the antennae.

Click beetles like to eat the nectar of flowers and plant juices. So why was it discovered in the mulch? Eyed Click Beetles lay their eggs in old, decaying wood. The larvae of Eyed Click Beetles are predatory and will eat other wood-boring beetle larvae like longhorn beetles. So most likely, Fredward is actually a girl.

Click Beetles get their name from a startling behavior that allows them to escape predators. When placed on its back or when grabbed by a predator Click Beetles bend its head and prothorax backward and then straighten suddenly with a snapping motion. This in an audible clicking noise and launches the beetle several inches into the air. They are also very good at playing dead, which we have observed all week. Fredward will tuck all of its legs up close to the body and stay motionless for quite a while. Then when no threat is about, it will go right back to its business. Here is a video showing the Eyed Click Beetle doing its thing.

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