Euchroma giganteumgiant metallic ceiba borer

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Geographic Range

The giant metallic ceiba borer, Euchroma giganteum, is native to the Nearctic and Palearctic regions. It occupies much of Central and South America and a lower portion of North America. The beetles range from southern Arizona and New Mexico through Mexico. They are also known to live in Brazil and Argentina. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer (Euchroma giganteum)", 2013; "Giant metallic ceiba borer beetle", 2009; Evans, 2008; O'Toole, 1993)

Habitat

Ceiba borers live in warm regions of up to 1,200 meters in elevation with specifically high numbers found in the Amazon. The larvae are typically found in the soft wood of trees in the Bombacaceae family. The adult beetles are found mostly on acadia branches in arid desert flats on summer days. The adult beetles are also found walking or flying around the trunks of trees. The beetles frequently visit flowers, and various other deciduous trees or large shrubs, where they feed on pollen. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer (Euchroma giganteum)", 2013; Evans, 2008)

  • Range elevation
    1200 (high) m
    3937.01 (high) ft

Physical Description

Adults of Euchroma giganteum usually measure between 5 to 8 cm in length, the largest of their type. The body shape resembles a bullet that is slightly flattened. The beetles have wing cases, called elytra, which are covered with metallic purplish blue bumps and occasionally will contain a green or slight reddish color. There are typically two dark, round spots on the pronotum. They will also secrete a yellow wax to protect them from the sun and hold moisture in their body. They have large dark eyes and segmented antennae. The larva can reach up to 15 cm but are generally smaller. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer (Euchroma giganteum)", 2013; Evans, 2008; Utah State University, 2014)

  • Range length
    5 to 8 cm
    1.97 to 3.15 in

Development

Eggs are laid in late summer in trees or stumps. The eggs hatch after about 19 days and remain in the wood for up to a year or more with no light exposure. They go through several larval instar stages, as well as a pupal stage. When the emerge as adults, they leave their tree or stump. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer (Euchroma giganteum)", 2013; Schwab, 2004)

Reproduction

Males of Euchroma giganteum use their hard fore-wings, known as the elytra, to make a clicking sound that will attract a female mate. Mating takes place mainly in August. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer (Euchroma giganteum)", 2013; Nichols, 1910)

Once the pair have mated, the female finds a tree that has damage due to disease, insect infestation, lighting strikes, or physical damage. The female beetle will lay her eggs in rough bark after chewing a shallow hole into the bark. The beetle will lay 240 eggs total throughout her life span. The eggs will be laid in 4 groups of 10 eggs on one plant. They will keep this pattern until all 240 eggs are laid on multiple plants. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer (Euchroma giganteum)", 2013; Nichols, 1910; Schwab, 2004; Sutherland, 2006)

  • Breeding season
    Mating takes place in late summer.

Females of Euchroma giganteum provide provisioning in their eggs. They also place the eggs on a suitable tree or stump that the larvae will feed on and burrow into upon hatching. After they lay the eggs, the provide no more parental care. (Nichols, 1910; Sutherland, 2006)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

As larvae, they spend up to two years of their lifetime in the tree that they are laid in, until they are capable of flight. Once they are adults, they can live anywhere from two to four years. (Schwab, 2004)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    2 to 4 years

Behavior

Euchroma giganteum is diurnal, with most of its activities occurring during the day. They can sometimes be found sunning themselves on trees, while their movements are sluggish unless alarmed. When the larvae hatches from its egg it buries itself into the wood that it was laid on. Here, they spend most of their larvae stage. Once they mature and become adults, they grow wings and gain the ability to fly. This allows them to migrate to new trees where they can mate and lay eggs. These beetles also have the capability to damage the tree that they reside in. They do this by eating the roots and other parts of the tree, causing them to unroot and fall. (Hawkeswood and Magnus, 1985; Nichols, 1910; O'Toole, 1993; Schwab, 2004)

Communication and Perception

Euchroma giganteum has a unique way of communicating. The males will make a clicking sound to attract the females for mating reasons. To make these sounds, they use their elytra, the hard fore-wing of the beetle. There is little information available about other means of communication and perception, though they have well developed eyes and likely communicate with others and view their environment visually. (Nichols, 1910; Schwab, 2004)

Food Habits

Giant metallic ceiba borers have different diet trends throughout their life. In the larval stage,they feast on the decomposing parts of the trees in which they were hatched in. Although the larvae have the ability to move in the tree, they do not have the ability to move between trees or to other plants, so they have to feed on the plant that they are born in. Adults eat leaves and pollen among a large variety of plants, though there is very little known about the specific eating habits of the Buprestidae family of beetles. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer beetle", 2009; Gervais, et al., 2012)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • pollen

Predation

The only known predator to the metallic ceiba borer is humans; the Tzeltal-mayan Indian tribe in Mexico as well as Amazonian tribes eat the adult beetles and use the beetles wing casing as jewelry or ornaments. The thick, hard elytra of E. giganteum likely protects it from many other predators. The color of the elytra may also function as camouflage. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer (Euchroma giganteum)", 2013; Hogue, 1993; Schwab, 2004)

Ecosystem Roles

The larvae of Euchroma giganteum have been known to eat decomposing trees in their habitat. This is made possible by bacteria in their stomach, which breaks down the cellulose in the tree, allowing them to aid in biodegradation. This decomposition process is very important because it allows the ecosystem to remain diverse by placing nutrients needed by other organisms back into the environment. ("Giant metallic ceiba borer beetle", 2009; Schwab, 2004)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The giant metallic ceiba borer is harvested by humans, especially by many amazonian tribes, for jewelry. They use the colorful and hard elytra for things such as necklaces or earrings. The jewelry has a large impact on the economy of these tribes because it can be sold for money. One tribe is also known to eat these beetles. These beetles are also considered a prize or trophy specimen for insect collectors, due to their large size and colorful appearance. (Hogue, 1993; Schwab, 2004)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The diet of the metallic ceiba borer consists mainly of plant matter. There have been numerous accounts of Euchroma giganteum eating the roots and bark of cultivated and ornamental trees. Plants are at risk when they are newly planted from a nursery, along with trees whose trunks are exposed to direct sunlight. (Utah State University, 2014)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Euchroma giganteum has no special conservation status.

Contributors

Sebastian Fannan (author), Bridgewater College, Albert FitzPatrick (author), Bridgewater College, Quinn Morgan (author), Bridgewater College, Tamara Johnstone-Yellin (editor), Bridgewater College, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

biodegradation

helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

metamorphosis

A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

2013. "Giant metallic ceiba borer (Euchroma giganteum)" (On-line). Arkive. Accessed February 03, 2014 at http://www.arkive.org/giant-metallic-ceiba-borer/euchroma-gigantea/image-G103396.html.

2009. "Giant metallic ceiba borer beetle" (On-line). Glasgow Museum. Accessed February 03, 2014 at http://www.lifeintherainforest.org/giant-metallic-ceiba-borer-beetle.

Evans, A. 2008. Field guide to insects and spiders of north america. New York, New York: Andrew Stewart Publishing, Inc.

Gervais, D., D. Greene, T. Work. 2012. Causes of variation in wood boring beetle damage in fire killed black spruce (Picea mariana) forests in the central boreal forest of Quebec.. Ecoscience, 19/4: 398-403.

Hawkeswood, T., P. Magnus. 1985. A review of larval hosts records for Australian jewel beetles. Victorian Naturalist, 99: 240-251.

Hogue, C. 1993. Latin American Insects and Entomology. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.

Nichols, M. 1910. The spermatogenesis of Euchroma giganteum. The Biological Bulletin, 19/3: 167-178.

O'Toole, C. 1993. The encyclopedia of insects. New York, New York: Facts on File Inc.

Schwab, I. 2004. Jewels of the jungles. British journal of opthalmology, 88/7: 857.

Sutherland, C. 2006. Wood Boring Bettles. O & T Guide, 10: 1-5.

Utah State University, 2014. "Top 20 insects" (On-line). Accessed February 03, 2014 at https://utahpests.usu.edu/uppdl/htm/top-20-insects#flathead_beetle.