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Friday, July 20, 2001


Long-horned beetle

* Japanese name:Gomadara kamikir * Scientific name:Anoplophora malasiaca * Description: A black, 25-35 mm long bullet-shaped beetle with white spots and long, black and white-striped antennae, up to 11/2 times the body length. The legs are bluish; there is a spine on each side of the thorax. The white dots on the body give it another name: starry-sky beetle. These beetles make a rasping noise, like a ruler being dragged on the edge of a desk, by rubbing parts of the thorax together. The larvae are 50 mm long, fully grown.

* Where to find them: May to August, in gardens and forests all over Japan. Also in China and in recent years, North America. Trees with holes in the bark and sawdust on the ground may be infested by beetle larvae. Bees, wasps and butterflies are attracted to the sap that oozes from the holes in the trees.

* Food: Larvae feed on the heartwood of trees and are serious pests. They especially like mikan fruit trees and yanagi willow trees, which they can seriously weaken by feeding from inside. Adults eat leaves and bark of trees, and have very strong biting jaws, hence the Japanese name, which means "paper cutter." The female chews an oval hole into bark, and lays her eggs inside. She may lay up to 80 eggs. The larvae hatch in about 11 days, and bore into the tree, where they stay, eating, all winter. The problem for pest-control agencies is that the eggs and larvae are thus protected from pesticides. The Asian long-horned beetle recently made the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "America's Least Wanted" list.

* Special features: Those horns. Male antennae are longer than females', which suggests there is a sexual reason for the special length. If females prefer to mate with males with the longest horns, there will be strong natural selection on antenna length.

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