Thursday, August 26, 2010

Amazing Amorpha Adventure

I love adventures. Yeppers. Going out exploring is a favorite pastime, made even better in the company of good friends. Such was the outing this past Sunday, when some of the Midwest Native Plant Conference board and a few others were in search of an uncommon beetle, the Amorpha Borer, Megacyllene decora. Our group likes more than just plants!

The Amorpha Borer is an uncommon beetle in Ohio. It is dependent on its host plant False Indigo, Amorpha fruticosa, which has a limited range in Ohio. The adult beetle will deposit eggs on the plant and the larvae with bore into the plants' stems feeding on the Amorpha tissue. Above is a map of where Amorpha fruticosa is found in Ohio.

This is the group. Missing is Jim McCormac, who is behind the camera. This is his photo that I blatantly stole from his blog. :) It was Jim's idea to go looking for this beetle after finding one last year in the same location at Shawnee State Park marina. Thanks Jim, for including us on your quest!

The group found the beetle in two different locations. Such a stunning brilliant yellow and black beetle. Its species name, decora, means elegant. There is no arguing with that! This living treasure is as pretty as any jewel. Here it is feeding on Thoroughwort, Eupatorium serotinum.
Above is my photo.

This photo is a better shot from my friend John Howard. I am just amazed at the color on this animal! And look at its crazy antennae! The Amorpha Borer is a type of Long-horned Beetle, named so for their extra long segmented antennae.

Here is a closeup shot of the beetle in hand. Such a vicious beast, ripping open my flesh with its huge mandibles. The doctors were able to save the hand and I have recovered quite nicely from my injury. ;) Photo stolen once again from Jim McCormac's blog.

This quest brought up some questions about the beetle and just how common is it? So far, we haven't found much information on it, just snippets here and there.

And, another burning question was finally answered for me that day. I have always wondered why the eighties band Stryper wore those bright yellow and black jumpsuits. It is now quite obvious to me they were smitten by this beetle and wanted to pay tribute. Yes, it is all starting to make sense now... :)

Stryper, giant Amorpha Borer fans


  1. What a nice encounter. I remarked about some of my encounters with this species on Jim's blog - it just doesn't seem to be commonly encountered anywhere, although good numbers can be found when it is encountered. This seems odd, considering how abundant and widespread its host is.

    GAWD - I used to listen to that band!

  2. Hmmm, It looks as if the boys in Stryper may have been mimicking the Painted Hickory borer, Megacyllene caryae. Whatever the case, these '80's washed up big-haired rockers are clearly Megacyllene borer imitators!


  3. Thanks Ted! Maybe there is another element in their life history we haven't figured out yet. And your secret is safe with me...and everyone else who reads this blog :)

    Jim, Though it is also an attractive beetle, I just can't see the Painted Hickory borer driving someone to dress like that. AB had to have been the reason. :)

  4. The locust borer, Megacyllene robiniae, is clearly the model for the band's dress--see that chevron pattern?

  5. Hee glad u survived that vicious beetle bite!
    What a very colorful beetle.
    What a strange looking band..Never heard of them.