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Description and Biology

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The eyed elator, Alaus oculatus, is a very large click beetle. It is also called the eyed click beetle. Click beetles are so called because of their unusual mechanism for righting themselves when upset. The beetles snap their bodies with an audible click that sends them sailing up into the air more or less like a tiddly wink. The name “elator” is derived from the family Elateridae, the family of click beetles. The “eyed” part of the name refers to large eye spots on the thorax. These large, fake eyes probably scare birds and other predators. These beetles can fly and are sometimes attracted to lights at night. Females lay their eggs in decaying logs and stumps. Immature eyed elators are wireworms that grow to almost two inches long. They have small but functional legs and are slender like earthworms but are smooth, tough, and brown. These wireworms burrow through the rotting wood and feed on grubs and other hapless organisms.

eyed elator

The eyed elator is a very large click beetle.

Immature eyed elators are large wireworms that develop in decaying logs and stumps by feeding on roundheaded wood borers, grubs and other insects too slow to get out of the way. Adults do not chew on ornamental plants. Furthermore, eyed elators are usually not abundant enough to be considered a pest. It is thought that adult eyed elators may feed on nectar.

Residential Recommendations

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Because eyed elators have neutral impact of plants, pets, and people, and because they are relatively rare, no control measures are necessary. Just enjoy them whenever you are lucky enough to see one.


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Publication date: May 4, 2016
Revised: Sept. 16, 2019

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