Georgia has abundant flora and fauna and is home to numerous insects. Coleoptera, the beetle family of arthropods, is well represented in Georgia. While many beetles are native to Georgia, there are several beetles that are invasive species that cause damage to plants and crops. Beetles have a pair of antennae, six legs, mandibles and their bodies are divided into a head, thorax and abdomen.
Georgia has several species of rhinoceros beetles, which have a distinctive horn that extends from the section of its body behind its head. In Georgia the eastern Hercules beetle is the most common. It can grow up to 2 1/2 inches and is the biggest beetle in the eastern United States. This beetle can be tan or green and has black dots on its back. Eggs are laid in the summer and the larvae feed on wood that is rotten. Reaching its fully grown state can take up to three years. Adults eat rotten fruit, and despite their ferocious appearance, these are gentle giants that will not bite or harm humans.
The Japanese beetle is a pest that arrived uninvited from Japan and was first detected in New Jersey. These pests have made their way to Georgia where they have applied their trademark eating habits. Don't be fooled or dazzled by the adults' shiny, metallic green color, because the adult Japanese beetle is a true skeletonizer. This means that it eats the tissue of healthy leaves, but leaves the veins behind, giving what's left of the plant a skeletal look. In addition, these beetles will also attack and eat fruit and flower buds. To make matters worse, the larvae are known for damaging turf and can also kill seedlings.
Blister beetles go through complete metamorphosis, having distinct stages of development from egg to larva through to pupa and adult stages. The native blister beetle is sometimes a problem in Georgia because the adult beetle can infest alfalfa or soybean crops. Livestock that feed on hay that incorporates alfalfa may then also contain dead blister beetles, which are toxic to livestock and may cause illness or even death. Horses are particularly susceptible to the toxicity. In Georgia, the blister beetles are more plentiful in late summer but can also be found in early summer days.
Eyed Click Beetle
Alaus oculatus is a striking and large beetle found in Georgia that can grow to be over an inch long. This beetle has large markings that appear to be eyes, but are actually false eyes that are believed to possibly scare away potential predators. The insect's real eyes are far smaller and can be found in front of the markings on the head. The larvae are large and prey on wood-boring beetle larvae.
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