Ivory Marked Longhorn Borer

Eburia quadrigeminata, the Ivory Marked Borer, is a beautiful gold longhorn beetle with 4 white spots on its wings (elytra). The name “longhorn” describes the antennae that are characteristically longer than the body. The long antennae can detect odors over a wide area. Mating in longhorn beetles typically requires the antennae of the male to physically contact a female. The female exoskeleton contains chemicals that allow the male beetle to recognize her as a potential mate. The long antennae are more efficient for mate searches than shorter antennae would be.

Eburia quadrigeminata spends its larval life eating wood. The female adults lay eggs in cracks of dead hardwood trees. However, dead trees are not very nutritious, so larvae grow only very slowly. Development times of 2 years are common.

The larvae live a tough life, but they are hardy. Beetle larvae have been known to survive tree cutting, milling, finishing and varnishing to emerge as adults from finished wood products. The conditions inside a piece of furniture are even harsher for the beetle larvae than a typical log. The harsh conditions may extend development time.

In 1995, a pest control company reported receiving a call from a family in Florida who heard a gnawing sound from inside a chair. The pest control technician investigated and pulled an Ivory Marked Borer out of the chair. This was 5 years after the chair had been purchased!

An odd report of an Eburia quadrigeminata emerging from a bookshelf, 40 years after it was installed and other emergences from old pieces of furniture have led to speculation about beetle longevity and development time. Some people think they may live 40 years. However, other entomologists argue that the beetle in the 40 year old bookshelf must have come from a beetle that entered the home more recently, laid an egg in a crack in the shelf and the larva developed in the board over a period of years shorter than 40 years.

The long life and cryptic habits make it possible for this beetle to travel the world inside furniture. A family in Cairo, Egypt reported an Eburia quadrigeminata beetle emerging from a cabinet that was imported from France. Natural populations of Eburia quadrigeminata have never been observed in Africa.

Adults are attracted to lights at night. The one in the photo below was on my screen door. Fortunately the beetle is outside and not inside. I do not want beetle larvae drilling holes in my wood floors and cabinets.

Eburia quadrigeminata

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Environment, Invasive Species, Pest Management. Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Ivory Marked Longhorn Borer

  1. scheky says:

    The capability of exotic wood boring beetles to be concealed in Trojan trade goods; tables, bookshelves and picture frames makes exclusion difficult. Is it common for wood boring beetle larvae to have extended periods of larval development? Are species that live in dead wood more likely to have extended larval development than species that invest live trees?

  2. jjneal says:

    Species that feed on dead wood typically have long life cycles. Often they require microbes that live in their guts to produce nutrients they cannot get from the dead wood. Insects that live in furniture are not as likely to become invasive because they typically have low rates of population growth.
    There are not many species that can survive in furniture. Heat treating the wood should kill most insects. Most of the larvae that get processed into furniture probably die. It is the exceptions that are rare and newsworthy.

  3. Ok. question – I live in TX and was visited the other night by what looked to be a longhorn beetle (I should’ve taken a pic but my camera stinks). It was this beautiful suede brown and looked to have gold dots, like someone had put drops of gold puff paint, 2 on either side the top near the neck, another 2 at the bottom. The dots were about the size of a pinhead and iridescent in the light.

    Do you have ANY idea what it might be? It was so beautiful I wanted to observe it longer but the house guests were not showing any bug love so I had to put it outside.

  4. Are these guys bad insects when it comes to the garden? Or beneficial? Or neither? 🙂

  5. jjneal says:

    They can be tree pests. They don’t eat vegetables.

  6. One of these guys just emerged from the foundation of my new bed, which was just manufactured locally. I wonder where he came here from!

  7. robert bloss says:

    newburgh indiana I found one of these on my mailbox last week

  8. Curtis says:

    I was delivering to a house, when I saw this pretty beetle. It was next to a house light along with a beautiful moth. About an hour later, the same kind of beetle was in my car! I looked him up and got to this Web site.

  9. Maritza says:

    I was watching tv last night and I laid my legs on the near by ottoman and for some reason I felt the need to stretch my left leg. As I was doing so I felt a poke. Almost like a needle was poking from the inside of the ottoman. I moved my leg and it poked harder and scraped my leg as I moved it aside. I reached down to feel what it was and I felt something like a piece of grass so I turned on the light only to find one of these ivory marked longhorn borer. I’m not sure what part of it either bit me or poked me but I asure you, it was not pleasant.

    • Darlene says:

      They eat wood so our skin is no big deal I took a close up of the one that bit me same feeling as you but I was at my computer anyway they have a small stinger

  10. mike moore says:

    8/14/15 east-central Indiana
    While standing at my bathroom sink last night it’s a wood cabinet type (same color as the beetle); I felt something on my
    lower leg, so I brushed whatever it was off, onto the floor. I noticed this rather large beetle, so I picked it up (from it’s back) and placed it in a jar. Found ID on this .webpage. The wood cabinet is aprox. 11 yrs. old. Any entomologist want it ?

  11. Anonymous says:

    4H students make Insect collections. They might want it.

  12. Charlestown SC says:

    My granddaughter screamed for me to come to the kitchen. Said it was a big strange bug. I hurried in saw an insect that I had never seen before. I didn’t know what it was. It was crawling on the stovetop. She said it flew too. So it got sprayed and went into the eye tray.
    I looked closer later and it was on it’s back kicking. I just left it there. This morning I got it out and turned it over and took a picture. Then found this sight. My house has no new wood. It was built around 1971. Should I look for others? If so where?

  13. Diane Womack says:

    Do they bit and how can I kill it

  14. jjneal says:

    They Don’t typically bite.
    Release it outside and it will go away.
    To kill:
    Place in plastic container or bag. Place in freezer overnite
    or Put water in bucket. Add detergent. Drop in water. Make sure it sinks.
    or Spray with insecticide

  15. kgep says:

    I have found 2 of these bugs within 2 days of each other inside my house. Should I be concerned that I’m going to find more? We have hardwood floors that were put in Dec 2014 and no recent furniture was purchased. Planning on calling an exterminator on Monday.

  16. Melissa says:

    I have a 15′ long 6″x6″ wood Beam in my sunroom. The previous home owner had cut the tree and planed the beam himself. It has been in place for about 8-10 years. I first noticed beetle activity about 3 years ago…I was making jewelry one night, with bright lights on. I noticed a fine saw dust sprinkling onto the table I was working at. Puzzled, I looked above me, and noticed that the wood dust was coming out of the beam. Even more puzzled and nervously curious, I grabbed a can of computer duster and stood on top of the table and sprayed the area where the dust was coming from. A huge poof of dust came spraying out of a hole the size of a pencil eraser….and a FAT white larva landed on the table. Ewww, I was totally freeked out. I had pest control come spray the beam and house soon thereafter. The beam became more active once the chemicals were sprayed….5 or 6 more holes emerged. Then nothing for about 6 months. Then another evening at the table, I could hear a chewing and buzzing sound….I grabbed the computer duster again and sprayed into one of the holes, and out came an Ivory Long Horned Beetle!! I put it in a mason jar, so I could show the pest control guy. That beetle lived for 2 weeks with no air in the mason jar. I then poured some nail polish remover in the jar….the beetle STILL lived in the jar with the acetone for at least 3 more days! ( I swear I am an animal lover… But not a bug that is chewing holes in my house.) Since then I now have about 25 holes in the wood beam…. I have sucked with the vacuum cleaner and sprayed with computer duster several more larvae and found about 5 more adult beetles. I hired a new Pest Control person who had never seen an ivory marked Beetle inside of a house before… We are treating the beam with some heavy-duty chemicals and more bugs begin to emerge. I am located in central Pennsylvania. Any other helpful hints would be much appreciated.

  17. jjneal says:

    Definitely a cautionary tale for cutting your own lumber.
    Kiln drying kills the insects

  18. sharon keeling says:

    I found two of these long horned beatles today on the front side of my house. Now one is gone and the other is trying to make itself smaller and hide. What happens if they make it inside my house? Will they eat my particle siding that is now covered with vinyl?

  19. So that’s what it was. I found one drowned in a cup in the sink this morning. It must have flown in when I went outside the other night. Now I feel bad I didn’t see it and put it back out. 😦

  20. Della woody says:

    Can they male you sick. Because had one in my pj and felt like it bit me.

  21. Darlene says:

    One bit or stung me it hurt bad and had a raised swollen circle with a red spot in the center I put cortazone ten and an ice pack it got better fast

  22. this insect stung me why dif it sting me help I’ve had this bugs in my house when I saw while doing dishes I saw this bug that almost blended in with my cabinets and just now sitting on the couch eating popcorn watching a movie it was on my neck for a second then ot stung me

  23. Juanita Brown says:

    In the kitchen washing dishes and one of these bug was in the window over the sink and I look at it and got the bug spray out and spray it it it’s stuck on the screen ,I think it’s dead . I need seen a bug like this b4.

  24. Anonymous says:

    One of these bugs was crawling on me when I was sleeping it scared the shot out of me then I smashed it

  25. Timothy J. Langham says:

    Found this insect on my bed, dead, when making bed.

  26. Donny Wilkes says:

    I just found one on my blanket sitting beside me, first time ever seeing one.It freaked me out a little until i googled it and found out what it was. Beetles are creepy with their kung fu grip.

  27. Patty Atkisson says:

    I live in Southern Indiana across the bridge from Louisville, Ky. One of these flew on my living room carpet. I couldn’t tell what it was but the size of it made me step on it. I picked up a tissue to see what it was and I have never seen it before. When I googled the description it brought me here. This is definitely what it is. I have a picture of it if interested, and no it’s not smashed.

  28. Bobbi Clough says:

    These guys have to bite or sting some way. My dog just freaked and jumped off my bed do fast ten I was the large beetle. I tried to smash it but could not. I am sorry but down the toilet it went. It was crawling on my bed and I did not know what it was. I hope it does not cause harm for dogs and I hope he brought it in the house on him. Won’t be getting much sleep tonight.

  29. Dorothy says:

    I found one of these on my ceiling, was t sure what it was. So I hit it pretty hard with a flyswatter, it fell to the ground so I looked to see where it went, and it was crawling on the ground. Shocked I hit it again and it still continued to crawl so I got something harder and smashed it. Assuming it is dead because there is guts or maybe larvae that come out the backside of it, I layed it on a book and googled what it looked like and it brought me to this site.
    About 10 minutes later I look at it and it’s still trying to crawl, so I cut it’s head off. Figuring that would kill it, it’s legs and antennas are still moving. I’m baffled. Does these things die!?? Should I have an exterminator come to my house and spray for these after reading all the ruckus they can cause!? Help!! Tia.

    • jjneal says:

      It is likely the only one in your house so further control is not needed.
      Insects are “wired” in a compartmentalized manner. The nerves and muscles that move the legs are located in the thorax posterior to the head. A beetle with no head cannot see or feed, but it can still walk. To kill most insects, put it in the freezer.

  30. Sondra nocella says:

    Omg i found this bug in my daughter room. We did get a wood furniture from a garge sale, i refurbished it. Should i be worried? Although the woods are rite behind my house.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Lancaster County PA — Found one on the kitchen ceiling yesterday. We normally see wood borers in the Spring as we have large oak trees, but this guy was a first. Took him outside and tossed him in the mulch. Better he eats the wood outside than the wood inside.

  32. ELLEN says:

    What is the cause of all these first time sitings? I had never seen one before tonight in my kitchen … I have read conflicting info regarding whether they kill trees or eat only dead-wood … Most furniture isn’t made from dead/decaying wood, is it?

  33. ELLEN says:

    … sightings …

  34. Ally says:

    I just had one come out of nowhere and hit me in the head so I looked the Beattle up and I saw something about a cow killer and I freaked so then I found this and read it and I had my mother take it outside for me.

  35. George Latz says:

    Found a ivory Longhorns Beatle here today in Clearwater flordia not sure y but it’s the first I’ve seen

  36. Melissa M Farley says:

    Closet thing I had to kill it was a styrofoam plate( I know, bad for the environment but we had take out) the way it goes around the room I thought it was a wasp! So when I went to squash it with the plate his foot went through! Carrying him to the toilet for the farewell with his little foot trapped is when I saw he wasn’t a wasp. But that might be why people think they sting! So here I am looking up the four white spotted bug at 1:30 am!

  37. Edin says:

    Thanks for posting! My son found one today and your article helped us identify it!

  38. Marti Ramont says:

    This looks just like the dead bugs we found under our couch and when we removed the bottom fabric of the couch we found many more dead bugs. Some of the inside wood structure that the couch springs were attached to was eaten so badly that the springs broke loose! Our couch was almost six years old and these dead bugs were just recently noticed. Since all that we observed were dead, it was hard to see any spots on the body. They were about 1/4″. Total outside of couch and love seat 12, total in side couch maybe 30, all dead! We are not sure if this was the wood eating bug, but we no long have our couch and love seat. Still trying to identify the actual bug and trying to understand how it took us years to see them. Especially, since our house has low humidity and is never damp. If this bug is not what we have, please let us know what it might be, if anyone knows.

    • jjneal says:

      Ivory marked longhorn beetles are much larger than 1/4 inch. Perhaps your couch had termites or furniture beetles. I could imagine termites causing the damage you describe

  39. Suzy says:

    This bug which I have never seen before in my life. Was on a beige towel in my bathroom. I want to know is unusual to find one of these insects in northern Ohio?

  40. Anonymous says:

    Got one in Illinois just today… quite a big insect neat little thing but definitely not wanted INSIDE!!

  41. Karen Crawford says:

    We found a beetle in our house this morning. It was a tan color with what looked like four sets of white quotation marks on it’s back. It also had two black dots on its head, and what looked like eyes at the tip of its head. It also had soft looking wings. I took a picture of it but don’t I don’t see weber I can post it on here. Would anyone know what this is? I’ve never seen one in my life and I’m 66 years old. Thank you!

  42. Christine Harlacher says:

    I just spotted one of these on my kitchen wall. I opened my patio door to feed cats at night and it flew inside. It’s too big got me to kill. I’ll try to include its picture.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Is this beetle harmful to dogs if eaten? My dog was playing with it

  44. Anonymous says:

    I found this cool little bug though searching Google for bug with quotation marks 😆 I feel absolutely terrible that I injured one not knowing what it was but being afraid. They seem really unique and interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s