One of those unusual insects that seems like something out of a science fiction movie is a bot fly. These insects are parasites of other animals, where they live beneath the skin as larvae. There are a number of species out there that affect large mammals such as cattle, sheep, and caribou. There’s also a species called the human bot fly (Dermatobia hominis), which is known from tropical locations. Around Wisconsin, we have some species in the genus Cuterebra that attack rodents and rabbits. As adults, the rabbit bot flies resemble large, black and white bees with red spots on their eyes. They’re rarely seen, but a photograph recently came in from Madison, WI.
A recent image came in to the lab from the Wausau area of an adult elderberry borer (Desmocerus palliatus). It gets its name from the larval stage which lives inside the stems of elderberry plants and bores down to the roots. These beetles are members of the long-horned beetle family (Cerambycidae) due to their long antennae. The elderberry borer happens to be one of our most distinctive species, although it isn’t spotted often. It was even featured many years ago on a 33 cent US postal stamp.
One of my favorite submissions to the lab came in recently from Waupaca County, WI. The species is known as the Goldsmith Beetle (Cotalpa lonigera). It resembles a large May/June Beetle or the Grapevine Beetle. The neat thing about this particular species is the brilliant metallic, golden color of the head and pronotum, which reminds me of the scarabs of ancient Egyptian lore. It’s an uncommon species known from the eastern half of North America, and is apparently associated with woodlands.