11 June 2011

Longicorn Beetle - Uracanthus spp.

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Longicorn Beetle - Uracanthus spp.

The Uracanthus genus belongs to Cerambycinae the largest of the five Longicorn Beetle subfamilies (family Cerambycidae), with a worldwide distribution, of which Australia currently has over 1200 described species. Uracanthus has 39 described species, but like most invertebrates there are probably a number yet to be discovered. With the assistance of a Ph.D thesis by Duangrat Thongphak published in 2007 and available online, titled, ‘Systematics of the Australian Longicorn Beetle Genus Uracanthus Hope 1833’ I was able to name five the above beetles.

Beetles in this genus are characterised (amongst other features) by the long slender elytra (hardened forewings covering the hind wings and abdomen), which taper (not parallel) to the rear of the beetle, plus the first rear tarsal segment (foot portion) is as long or longer than the following two segments. The Uracanthus larvae as with other Longicorn Beetles are borers, many of which are host specific. However, some of these beetles are regarded as pests as they attack a variety of fruit trees, so are not popular in fruit-growing regions although Esperance not being one does not suffer from this problem.

The beetles vary in head/body length (excluding antennae) from 1-6 cm (3/8”- 21/2”), although those shown above are in the mid-size range, but are still impressive looking insects, particularly the males that have the larger antennae. They are attracted to house lights and can be found on warm moist evenings, particularly during summer.

Update June 2011

Photos of four additional species added.