July 6, 2021
It's time for the Tuesday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!
I always enjoy getting nature ID requests from the public, especially if it's an unusual insect. Since March 2020, I've received more photos of this critter right here than any other insect, and I was thrilled to finally find one on my property! This is Alaus oculatus, commonly known as the eastern eyed click beetle!
The eastern eyed click beetle is definitely eye-catching (no pun intended). Aside from the fact that they can reach nearly two inches in length, these beetles have pronounced dark eye spots on the pronotum (the hard plate right behind the head). These eye spots evolved as a defensive mechanism; if a potential predator comes upon one of these beetles, the eye spots serve to confuse it and hopefully frighten it away!
Eastern eyed click beetles are found in the eastern two-thirds of North America and they're pretty common within their range. These beetles are fairly unique because while the larvae of many click beetle species are agricultural pests, the larvae of Alaus oculatus are carnivores that feed on other beetle larvae! They can spend 2-5 years in their larval form before emerging as adults in the spring; once the adults emerge, they can usually be found through August or September.
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (www.cbtcares.com).
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!