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Bug of the Week

Week of June 5, 2016: Whitespotted Sawyer Beetles

A female whitespotted sawyer beetle (June 4, 2016; Etna, Maine)

A female whitespotted sawyer beetle (June 4, 2016; Etna, Maine)

If you spend any time in a forested part of the state this week, you might spot one of these somewhat fearsome-looking beetles flying about.  It is a Whitespotted sawyer beetle, and if you think of it as having a body like ours for a moment, you can see that there is a rather prominent white spot located between its ‘shoulder blades’ (on the beetle’s hard wing coverings).  Many people mistake sawyer beetles for the dreaded Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).  However, the ALB does not have the single distinctive white spot of the whitespotted sawyer.  Instead, the ALB has about 20 white spots on each wing cover.  The body of the ALB is also shiny and black, compared to our sawyer beetles, and has not been detected in Maine as yet.  Additionally, the antennae of the ALB are very conspicuously banded black and white. [What ALB Looks Like] (USDA)

photo of pair of Whitespotted Sawyer beetles (male on left; female on right)

Whitespotted Sawyer Beetles

The Whitespotted Sawyer beetle is a mostly minor pest of coniferous trees, especially white pine, balsam fir, and species of spruce. Other than some of the feeding done to the bark on the undersides of twigs by the adult beetles, it is regarded as a secondary pest because it is trees that are already weakened, dying or dead that the beetles utilize for their larvae. Size: Not counting the antennae, the whitespotted sawyer adults average one inch to an inch and a quarter in ‘body’ length.  For more information, take a look at our page on sawyer beetles.

Whitespotted Sawyer beetle (female) Whitespotted-Sawyer-Beetle-060416b

 


3/11/16. A large mass of springtails. Photo courtesy of C. Senn. Lincolnville, ME.

3/11/16. A large mass of springtails. Photo courtesy of C. Senn. Lincolnville, ME.

Week of March 15, 2016: Springtails (Collembola).
Springtails have been ‘springing’ up around the state as of late.  Many people are unfamiliar with these peculiar, but harmless, creatures, but may recognize them by another common name–Snowfleas or ‘snow fleas’–used to describe some dark-colored and jumping species, such as Hypogastruna nivicola.  Snowfleas are easy to see when they end up in large aggregations on top of snow-covered areas in late winter or early spring.  Most species of Collembola possess a special forked appendage called a furcula that enables them to jump, which is the reason for the vernacular name, springtails.

Springtail-031816-01 Springtail-031816-03 Springtail-031816-02 Springtail-031816-04

Springtails are very minute in size; commonly 1/8th to as small as 1/16th inch in length.  Most are either dark-colored, brown, grey or black but some species are white, or even iridescent and brightly colored such as the red species pictured above.  They require damp conditions to survive, and may be found in a large number of habitats, especially soil.  Other habitats include leaf litter, rotting wood, caves, shorelines, organic debris, under bark, or even indoors in moist locations such as the soil of potted plants.  People may also find them in their basements, or outside covering portions of foundations.  They are considered beneficial because of their important role as decomposers, since they are omnivore feeders that will feed on fungi, pollen, algae, and decaying animal and plant organic matter.

Other Notes of interest:

  • There are over 8,200 described species of Collembola worldwide.
  • Although springtails, like insects, belong to the subphylum Hexapoda–derived from the Greek for having six legs–they are no longer considered insects, in part because they have internal mouthparts whereas insects have external mouthparts.
  • Springtails are probably the most abundant hexapods on Earth, with up to 250,000,000 individuals per acre, and they occur throughout the world; even in Antarctica.

The Bug of the Week is something we like to do in order to put some lucky (or maybe unlucky) ‘bugs’ in the spotlight from time to time throughout the year.  If you have a good picture of a ‘bug’ that you’ve very recently found somewhere in Maine that you’d like to have identified and/or would be willing to have featured here as the next Bug of the Week, please email your photo to us and don’t forget to include a statement giving us permission to use your photo on our Home and Garden IPM website and how you would like to be credited for the photo.  Send your email to Jim Dill (IPM Specialist) at james.dill@maine.edu


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