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Eyed Click Beetle

7-10-14 eyed click beetle 789Although this Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus) looks ferocious with its large, black “eyespots” (actual eyes are below antennae), it is harmless to humans. Like all members of the click beetle, or Elateridae, family, it gets its name from the sound it makes when it flips itself upright. Click beetles possess a spine-like structure as well as a notch under their thorax. When they release the spine from the notch, it snaps and they are propelled into the air. Click beetles use this mechanism to right themselves if they are on their backs. Entomologists feel predators are deterred not only by the false eyes, but by this action. The larvae, called wireworms, spend most of their life (2 to 5 years) in the soil feeding on decaying plants and other insects in the soil before emerging as adults. (Thanks to Liz Ambros for photo op.)

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9 responses


    Hi Mary This 2″ caterpillar is on the underside of a grape leaf in my yard. I can’t find it in my caterpillar book. Any idea? Pip Richens Hanover

    July 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm


    Mary Minor detail: I forgot to attach the photo! 2″ caterpillar on the underside of a grape leaf. Pip Richens

    July 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    • Hi Pip,
      I’m afraid WordPress doesn’t allow me to see photos. Could you send it to me via email: I’d love to see it, and if it’s still around and I don’t have a photo of one, I’d love to come photograph it if that were o.k.!

      July 10, 2014 at 8:15 pm

  3. For years, I have been killing wireworms when I find them in soil, so your description of what they eat gave me pause. It turns out that they are indeed pests mostly of corn and potatoes and do not eat other insects. Check:
    Not a gardener’s friend at all! 🙂 But those click-beetle adults sure are fun, esp. for kids!

    July 11, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    • Hi Eliza,
      As I understand it, the larvae of many beetle species are known as wireworms, and most eat plants, but the Eyed Click Beetle apparently eats both plants and insects. I’m not sure how you identify the larvae so you know which ones to eliminate!

      July 11, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      • It’s difficult for me to be so murderous, but I feel I need to protect my gardens, so I do the dirty deed! >:-(

        July 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

  4. Mary, you would know if anybody would! Is there any chance in heck that a Glowing Green Eyed Click Beetle, could make it’s way to Massachusetts?!

    August 3, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    • I can’t say for sure, but it would be very, very surprising to find it that far north. You might try contacting the Entomology Dept. at the Department of Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences
      101 Fernald Hall
      270 Stockbridge Road
      University of Massachusetts
      Amherst, MA 01003
      Phone: (413) 545-2004
      Fax: (413) 545-2115

      August 4, 2015 at 7:36 am

      • Thank you very much! I appreciate your answering! I will give them a call! The reason I asked was a friend of mine was up at their Community Garden in Uxbridge MA and she photographed a distinct “Green” light floating in the air “Literally” she took several photographs, and it was green and pretty much steady, so a typical lightening bug didn’t match the light. When I researched on the internet I did find that guy, the Glowing Green Eyed Click Beetle which matching the glowing light and color description! Thank you! 🙂

        August 31, 2015 at 8:54 am

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