Click Beetles

Alaus oculatus

By Willi Evans Galloway

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Description
The eyed click beetle fakes out predators (and startles gardeners) with its two large, false eyespots. But it's the beetle's acrobatic moves that really draw attention. When it feels threatened, it drops onto its back and then flips itself into the air—sometimes several inches high—until it feels safe. The beetle performs this trick by snapping the first section of its thorax—the segmented middle part of its body—into a groove in the second section of the thorax. This hinge action makes a "click" noise (hence the name click beetle) and launches the insect into the air.

Host/Range
The eyed click beetle makes its home in the eastern half of North America.


Damage
The adults do no damage to living plants. The larvae, called wireworms due to their narrow, shiny, jointed appearance, spend most of their time in rotted stumps and logs. The larvae of some other click beetle species, including Limonius spp. and Agriotes spp., are considered pests because they feed on the roots of lawns, vegetables, and flowers. But the larvae of eyed click beetles tend to leave gardens and lawns alone, preferring instead to prey on the larvae of wood borers (pests that you definitely don't want in your yard). So the next time you see one of these guys, rest assured that it won't harm you or your plants, and let it go along on its merry way.

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