NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

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The sculptured pine borer, Chalcophora virginiensis, is also known as the large flatheaded pine heartwood borer, the larger flatheaded pine heartwood borer, the Virginia Pine Borer, and the southern sculptured pine borer. This is the largest metallic wood-boring beetle (flatheaded borer) in the eastern United States (up to 1¼ inch long). These beetles may be seen resting on sidewalks, on walls, and may actually land on people, especially if dressed in bright clothing, which may cause alarm to people intimidated by large insects. The sculptured pine borer breeds mostly in logs, stressed or dead pines, pine stumps, and utility poles. The eggs are laid in cracks, crevices, scars and holes in the bark and the tiny larvae eventually develop into two-inch long, white grubs that have the thorax noticeably wider and flatter than the rest of the body segments (hence the name "flatheaded"). On the top of the wide part is a distinctive Y-shape. Larvae develop under bark, then bore deeper into heartwood where they pupate in a single cell. Grubs may tunnel through wood for two or three years or more. As new adults emerge from the host tree, they leave an elliptical exit hole.

Sculptured pine borers

Sculptured pine borers fly during the growing season.

Sculptured pine borers have metallic reflections.

Sculptured pine borers have metallic reflections.

Sculptured pine borers often land on various objects.

Sculptured pine borers often land on various objects.

This Chalcophora flatheaded borer

This Chalcophora flatheaded borer is exceedingly like that of the sculptured pine borer.

Host Plants

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Sculptured pine borers utilize most pines including eastern white pine and all southern yellow pines. They have also been found in bald cypress and reported from spruce. Adults feed on young buds and needles whereas their grubs bore through wood. Along with the southern pine sawyer, the sculptured pine borer is a major reason to salvage and mill pine trees as quickly as possible in the warm months. Both of these borers tunnel into the heartwood and may completely ruin it for lumber uses. These two species often emerge from the walls of new log homes.

Residential Recommendations

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If a pine of high aesthetic value is damaged in a landscape, spray its trunk twice or three times during the growing season. A pyrethroid labeled for landscape use is probably the best choice of pesticides. When used as directed, pyrethroids are very toxic to insects but are not particularly hazardous to humans and pets (other than fish-avoid using pyrethroids around pools, ponds, and streams).


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This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.


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Publication date: June 27, 2016
Revised: Oct. 12, 2019

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