Friday, July 13, 2012

BUG OUT! Pine Sawyer Beetle

I was up late reading on a Monday night when I heard it. 

Clickety clickety click. Clickety clickety click. 

Living in Eastern PA, I'm used to the percussion of stink bugs slamming into, well...everything, but whatever was flittering around our bed on this particular night was decidedly LARGER. I had to investigate. 

And that's when I found it, a disturbingly large insect flailing around on its back, trying to flip itself over in hopes to continue its late night romp around our vaulted bedroom ceiling. 

Pine Sawyer Beetle
My late night catch- keys used to show scale
If you've read my previous blog about spiders, you know I'm not a squisher. The simple notion of the mess a bug this size would make if squished is enough to make my stomach turn. We're a scientific family, so I mustered up all my courage (yes...I actually left my husband sleeping and did it myself) and grabbed my bug jar to trap the offending insect. In hindsight, this is one bug that I should have destroyed.

Truth be told, I did let out a mild squeal while trapping this big guy. Now you can see why...

                                          Pine Sawyer Beetle
The next morning, the research began. I used my trusty Audubon book to search for a photograph that matched the insect I had in captivity. Because the body shape looked similar to a stag beetle we had caught recently, I quickly found a match in the beetle section of my guide. We had a pine sawyer beetle on our hands. Click here for more detailed information on this ominous insect.
My favorite bug identification resource
It turns out that this 2 inch insect had probably been feeding on a dead pine tree somewhere in our woods. We found another pine sawyer beetle a few months ago, outside our home, so now we'll have to continue our investigation through the woods on our property. These beetles are notorious for causing pine wilt disease which destroys conifers throughout the United States. We will need to determine if pine sawyers are forming a base here, and if so, create a plan of action to eradicate them in order to protect our trees. 

Pine Sawyer Beetle
This bugger barely FIT in the bug jar!
What can we say? Bugs love it here. What's not to love?

After more extensive research, I learned that the damage the larvae of these beetles cause is rather severe. As a starting point, if you suspect you might have these lil' suckers around your property, look for pine trees that have turned a brownish color. This site will show you examples of afflicted trees.

Pine Sawyer Beetle

Pine Sawyer Beetle

If you determine that you do, in fact, have pine sawyer beetles nearby, The United States Department of Agriculture released this management guide to help damage control.

We have strong stomachs in this family, but this insect was no joke.

Foolishly, after a day of observation, we did release this insect back into the wild. Now that I have finished my more thorough research, as much as I hate to say this, we probably should have terminated this beetle to protect our trees.
Pine Sawyer Beetle

At least now we know what we're dealing with if we come across another pine sawyer in the future. We will definitely be going on a hunt through the woods to examine fallen trees so we can determine if there are others breeding in our pines. You can bet I'll report if we find anything of interest.

Until then, keep your eyes peeled. If you find any interesting bugs, you know we'd be happy to do our homework to learn about what you've found.

Happy hunting!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Anonymous said...

We came across one of these critters in our kitchen a few weeks after you found yours. We're in the mountains of western NC and had never seen one before. As it turns out, these guys are about 1,500 miles or more east of where they normally hang out (California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, according to

Unknown said...

Aren't they impressive little stinkers!?! Unfortunately, we have found FOUR of these suckers this summer! I'm becoming concerned that we'll be seeing many more. I hope they don't damage our trees. Keep me posted if you spy more of these beetles around your neck of the woods. Thanks so much for the info!- Cally


I have found white spotted sawyer beetles in my home. The white spotted sawyer beetle does not kill trees but eats te dead trees
- gabby

Tabby said...

I just found one of these out side our back bedroom door. We have one blue spruces in the back that has been sickly looking ever since we moved in. I was coping it up to the red ant hill in front of it but noe I am going to have to look closer it might just be from one of these guys.

Cally said...

Aren't they nasty looking buggers?!? Let us know if you find any more. We have found two in recent years and are keeping our fingers crossed that more don't start popping up! Gads!

Candido said...

Found one on our back deck tonight. We are in Kamloops, BC. Never seen one before, what a huge beetle!!

nhchimneyguy said...

Hi Cally, nice blog on the Pine Sawyer Beetles. We have found 2 here in Southern NH and have alerted both the State Lab and USDA (fish & wildlife). They were both interested. They both said to keep them posted on how many are seen and locations they are found in. I would suggest that everyone do the same in whatever state/province they live in. Keep up the good work on your website!!
Bob P. Southern NH

Cally said...

Aren't these bugs fascinating to observe?!?

I really appreciate your comment here and think your advice to contact USDA is very wise! Thank you so much for including that valuable point.

We battle stink bugs out here and contacted scientists to help us understand THOSE buggers, so it would only make sense to do the same with these unusual visitors.

Thanks for the great tip!
Sending LUCK to your pine trees out there and high-fives to YOU!