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.
Eastern eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus).
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.
Eastern eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus). Pair of eastern eyed click beetles (Alaus oculatus), making more eastern eyed click beetles.