Alaus oculatus

Eyed Elater

Family: Elateridae

Subfamily: Agrypninae

Length: 25-45 mm


The oversized false eyes must give predators a real startle reaction, and indeed these "eyes" can startle the amateur entomologist who peels back the bark of a log to find a large beetle staring up intently.

Like other Click Beetles, this species has the ability to right itself if it should end up on its back through some mischance. A pronotal projection and socket mechanism are used to send the beetle popping into the air with an audible click. While the first or second try may not land the beetle back on its feet, soon enough the clicking does pay off.

The beetle here was photographed in north-central West Virginia during the first week of May. On cold days the adults may be found under bark, sometimes with other species of Click Beetle. Sightings of this attention-grabbing beetle peak in June and July, but they may be found earlier and later too.

This off-site link is to a comparison of this elater with another elater with eyespots (found to the south of West Virginia).