Spring “House-cleaning” for Woodboring Beetles

It is that time of year again! Each spring and early summer, I look for sick plants and trees – both during my work as an arborist, and in my free time roaming the country. I examine these plants and trees for evidence of woodboring beetle larvae, and if I find some I take samples home to raise in containers.

Using the techniques I have learned from many very helpful friends (like Ted MacRae!), I have been able to learn new things about a number of species of beetles. I have found out what kind of plant a certain species of beetle will use (infest). I have found beetles in places they have not been recorded before. I have also been able to raise good numbers of specimens for my collection, and the collections of friends and institutions.

I usually start looking for infested wood in March. But, before I can bring home new wood I need to make room. Plant material is most nutritious and appealing to beetles during the first year after it’s death. Most species emerge during the first year I have the wood in my containers. There are exceptions, however, so sometimes I keep wood for 2 or more years. Hesperorhipisare notorious for coming out of wood that is 3 or more years old. I got a few specimens from 2 year old hackberry this year – I’m hoping for hundreds this year!

A male Hesperorhipis hyperbola hyperbola Knull reared from Hackberry.

Each spring about this time I have to decide what wood to keep another season and what to throw away. I also clean out the containers with wood I am going to keep another season and wet everything down well (wood is misted during the season weekly to keep the larvae from desiccating). Here are some of my containers drying out, ready for more infested wood…

Rearing Containers