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Thursday, May 27, 2004

ANIMAL TRACKER

Wood-boring beetle


* Japanese name: Ubatamamushi
* Scientific name: Chalcophora japonica
* Description: This beetle belongs to a group called the Buprestids. They are bullet-shaped and are often metallic-colored, though this species has brown and black stripes running the length of the body, which is flecked with gold. It has large, wide-set eyes in a head sunk into the thorax. The antennae are short. Adults are 24-40 mm long; the tadpole-shaped, legless larvae are white and grow from 8-50 mm.
* Where to find them: From May through August, from Honshu to Kyushu, wood-boring beetles are often seeing flying in the sunshine and basking in sunny spots on flowers: The adults like the sun and fly in the hottest part of the day. This beetle sometimes lands on humans, particular on people wearing bright clothing .
* Food: Adults feed on young buds and leaves of trees; larvae tunnel under tree bark, feeding on the wood.
* Special features: These beetles are sometimes called "flat-headed wood-borers" because the larvae are dorsally flattened, with a broad thorax. The shape is an adaptation to wood-boring, which the larvae carry out vigorously, sometimes becoming serious pests. They infect dead or dying trees, if the latter then they usually select stressed and weakened trees. They tunnel just under the bark, feeding until they are ready to pupate. This period may last for many years. When ready, the larvae delve deeper into the heartwood of the tree. Adults emerge year-round, and leave a characteristic D-shaped hole in the bark. It is D-shaped because the adult is D-shaped in cross section, having a flat back and round belly. Females lay around 75 eggs in crevices in bark, or in wounds on trees. Interestingly, in this beetle males are sometimes selectively killed at the embryo stage, by a bacterium. This can result in a biased number of females in the population and sometimes, probably as a result of the lack of males, the females reproduce without them, and the eggs develop without sperm.



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