Eastern Eyed Click Beetle

This huge (~5cm) black beetle, with its distinctive black and white eyespots, is commonly referred to as the big-eyed click beetle or eastern eyed click beetle for what I hope are obvious reasons. It is also known as the eyed elater. The Latin name is Alaus oculatus.

“Click” beetles have have a spinelike structure on their undersides which can be snapped into a groove on the ventral side of the thorax. When flipped over or picked up, they perform this action to right themselves, and the two pieces snap together with a loud and surprising click!, which can startle predators into dropping them. Some click beetles also play dead to avoid predation.

Alaus oculatus starts out as a fat, black, two-inch larva known as a wireworm. Most “wireworms” (the common name covers multiple species) are considered pests as they dine on vegetation, but the big-eyed click beetle larvae are voracious predators who actually eat other insect larvae, and are considered beneficial.

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