Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Longleaf Beetle, American Carrion Beetle, and Honeydew Bees

A pest of longleaf trees.

A bupestrid beetle, a pest of longleaf trees. Photo: Susan Crawford.

Longleaf Beetle

Susan sent in some images of longleaf pine and of an insect she found on her tree seedling, “I have attached pictures of our 2 small longleaf pines that we planted in the spring. They looked very good up until several weeks ago. Can you tell me what is going on with them? I noticed this bug on the tree that has lost all of its needles on one side. I saw 2 bugs. I could not identify it. Also, notice the yellow spots on some needles. Thanks for your help!”

AHA consulted with Wood Johnson, an entomologist with the US Forest Service, and he responded, “That’s a buprestid beetle, Chrysobothris sp. (there are several very similar species in the genus so I’m not sure which one that is). There are a couple that will bore into pine, but I’m not sure if they’ll bore into trees that small/young. They could be feeding on the foliage, though. The adults of several of the flatheaded borers do feed briefly on the foliage of their host. My best guess would be those adults emerged nearby from larger material and are feeding on the foliage of those seedlings. I wouldn’t expect them to kill the trees.

The yellow spots are likely points of infection with either brown spot needle blight or one of the needlecast fungi. The recent wet weather is ideal for those needle fungi. Since it’s only 2 seedlings in the yard, they could spray them with a fungicide to be safe (but I expect this drier weather in the forecast will break the disease cycle). "

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An American carrion beetle(ACB), Photo: Janell Newton, Master Gardener.

American Carrion Beetle

Janell shared a clear image of an unusual insect and emailed, “I just stumbled up on this strange fellow. Never seen one of these before. Sorry about comparison. Only thing I had with me was these 6” baby clippers and he was not interested in waiting around for me to find something.”

Janell followed up with another email, “I think it may be a Carrion Beetle ? I just stumbled up on that info. And profile would fit. It was back on our property where husband dumps stuff after cleaning fish.”. Janell is correct about the name of this insect.

According to an AgCenter publication, Bug Biz, “At least 10 species of carrion beetles occur in Louisiana…. As their common name suggests, American carrion beetles(ACB) require medium to large vertebrate carcasses such as racoons, deer and domestic animals to complete their life cycle. The adults arrive at the carcass several days after death before the onset of the active decay stage when large maggot masses rapidly consume the carcass. As decomposition progresses, the adults continue to gather, mating and feeding opportunistically on the flesh of the carcass or on maggots. For several days, adult females will mate with numerous males and lay clutches of five to 10 eggs in the soil around the carcass. A female may lay up to 100 eggs in its lifetime. Adults disperse when the maggots have completely overwhelmed the carcass, approximately seven days postmortem, depending on weather and temperature. Adults are active fliers, often during the day, and strongly resemble bumblebees in flight.”

Beside decomposing animal carcasses, ACBs are used in forensic investigations, “The presence and abundance of carrion beetles can aid in the estimation of postmortem interval (PMI), a metric that helps forensic investigators estimate time of death, especially in the case of concealed bodies. Carcass PMI is commonly estimated from the development of maggots, which is tightly correlated to temperature and time. American carrion beetles and red-lined carrion beetles (Necrodes surinamensis) have been shown to aggregate and reproduce in large numbers around concealed bodies, particularly those in suitcases and trashcans.”

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A honeybee feeding honeydew from scale insects. Photo: Chris Jackson, DFW Urban Wildlife

Honeydew Bees

Deborah observed some honeybees and asked this question, “I live near Pine Prairie in Evangeline Parish and I have several old Pecan trees with honey bees feeding on something on the leaves. Can you tell me what they are attracted to. This is September and pecans have already formed.”

Scale insects, aphids, and mealybugs feed on plant sap, and the excess fluid is exuded as a sweet liquid known as “honeydew”. Pecan trees can have aphid infestations and honeydew so the best answer for Ron is that honeybees seem to be attracted to the honeydew on pecan leaves.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

4/4/2023 2:27:08 PM
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