Today Kieran found a beetle at his school that is a relatively recent immigrant to the United States. It’s Phoracantha recurva, a species of eucalyptus borer. An antipodean native, it was first found in Southern California in 1995, following close on the heels of its predecessor and competitor, Phoracantha semipunctata, which arrived in 1984. Both beetles have eagerly attacked eucalyptus trees in California since they were introduced.
The larvae of both species, turning every which way beneath the bark, gnaw through the cambium, outer xylem and the sapwood tissues of the eucalyptus. Since they prefer trees that are already “distressed,” they can hasten the destruction of trees and create hazards in eucalyptus groves, where falling branches are a real danger. Larvae are active for 60 to 120 days before pupating. Adults emerge in the summer.
Males use their extremely long antennae to locate females, who emit pheromones to help in being found.