Our beetle this week isn’t showing off its colors.

This is a metallic wood-boring beetle, family Buprestidae. They are sometimes called jewel beetles because many members of the family are brightly-colored and shiny. If you look closely, you might see the one above has some gold/green on the ridges of its hind wings (elytra) and on its legs, but otherwise it is rather dull.

In comparison, some members of its family look like this:

(Public domain photograph from Wikimedia)

The colors aren’t due to pigments in the exoskeleton, but instead the beetles appear metallic or iridescent because the fine texturing of their outer surface scatters light.

Regardless of their colors, many adult beetles of the family Buprestidae have cylindrical or bullet-shaped bodies.

The larvae are grubs that bore through the wood of trees, hence the name “wood-boring.” Most prefer to eat injured, dead, or dying trees. For that reason, people are likely find them in or around fire wood.

Have you ever found a jewel beetle?

Children want to learn more about beetles? Try the lovely picture book, A Beetle Is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by the fabulous Sylvia Long.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 5, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1452127123
ISBN-13: 978-1452127125


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