Friday Fellow: Violaceous Longhorned Beetle

by Piter Kehoma Boll

ResearchBlogging.org Beetles are the most species-rich group of living beings on our planet, so it’s time for Friday Fellow bring you a representative of them. I’ve chosen my favorite species, the violaceous longhorned borer Compsocerus violaceus (White, 1853).

Isn't it a beautiful creature? Photo by Silvio Tanaka*. Extracted from flickr.com/photos/tanaka/87228732/

Isn’t it a beautiful creature? Photo by Silvio Tanaka*. Extracted from flickr.com/photos/tanaka/87228732/

With a beautiful pair of metallic blue elythra and an orange body with long antennae bearing a black tuft, this species is very charismatic and appears during spring and summer here in southern Brazil, being usually seen on trees, especially from November to January. When grabbed or let inside a closed hand, it uses to emit a sound like consecutive short squeaks, which may be the reason why it is also called “besouro guitarrista” (guitarist beetle).

Despite its cuteness, however, it is considered an agricultural pest, attacking trees from different species, including acacias, eucalypts, willows, fig trees, citrus trees and peach trees.

Adults feed on fruits and sap leaking from injured trunks, while larvae feed on the wood itself, constructing galleries in it.

When ready to make the posture, females walk over branches searching for cracks in the bark to lay the eggs, sometimes making small transversal cuts for the same purpose. They use to lay eggs on the same tree where they emerged. Eggs are laid isolated, but many of them can be left on the same branch. Each female lays about 60 to 130 eggs.

As the larvae grow and increase their gallery inside the wood, the branch shows significant changes in aspect, with the bark becoming darker and leaves yellower.

In cases where too many larvae are present in a branch, it usually dies and may even break off the tree due to the damage caused.

Who has the responsability for turning this lovely species into a pest? We, humans, of course. Since we plant hundreds of trees together in large orchards, we are kind of advertising “tons of food here”. And when they come, we blame it on them.


References:

Garcia, H. A. 1994. Ocorrência e danos de Compsocerus violaceus (White, 1853) (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae) em pomar de citros. Anais das Escolas de Agronomia e Veterinária, 24 (1), 148-153

Garcia, A. H., & Cunha, M. G. 1994. Comportamento da população de Compsocerus violaceus (White, 1853) (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae) em relação a fauna de cerambicídeos coletados em pomares de citros. Anais das Escolas de Agronomia e Veterinária, 24 (1), 154-163

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