Length: 6-12 mm
This genus boasts more than 140 species in the United States and Canada, but most are found in the southwestern United States. Only three species live in or near West Virginia. The most strikingly patterned one is the species shown here, Acmaeodera pulchella.
This species has a marked preference for yellow flowers, to allow it to use its camouflage to full advantage. Look for it on wild Sunflowers or Black-eyed Susans, or on other yellow blossoms.
Some key traits include a prominent pit on each side of the base of the pronotum, and a large yellow spot that hugs the edges of the elytra from the humerus more than half way to the apex. Typically there are other yellow spots that include cross bars extending toward the center of the elytra. An attractive species!
The larvae have been reported from three plants from three different families: Hawthorn, Honey Locust, and Bald Cypress (Crataegus spp., Gleditsia triacanthos, and Toxodium distichum, respectively).
Donald Bright lamented in 1987, "Nothing is known of the habits or life history of this species," and at this writing (2008) Bright's point is still essentially true, even though Acmaeodera pulchella is attractive and widespread.
Above: Courtship and mate selection often involve complicated rivalries. The two left-hand beetles are mating (note that they are physically connected) but a second male still has not given up the fight.
A note about our maps
Insects of West Virginia